Get ready for a showdown

Cards hope to top Arsenal Tech at the Marion Classic


Niki Smithers

Junior Paul Scruggs throws down a one-handed slam dunk while seniors Joey Brunk and Luke Johnston trail behind. Scruggs, averaging 14.7 points per game, will shoulder more responsibility at the Marion Classic with Brunk out.

Mark Carlson, Reporter

The ninth best team in Indiana will play the 33rd best when they square off at the Marion Classic.
Before their showdown with Arsenal Tech High School, the Cards faced two tactically solid teams in Bloomington South High School and East St. Louis High School.

“Bloomington South is well coached and they (threw) a variety of different defenses at us which are different from what we have seen through the first three games of this season,” Coach Kyle Simpson said.

During their game against Bloomington South, SHS struggled to deal with South’s slow-paced tactical offense. There were multiple times that while setting up a shot, South held the ball for upwards of a minute.

As well as holding onto the ball for a long time, South played many complex defenses. They played triangle-and-two defenses, as well as box-and-ones according to Simpson.

“They were going to jug defense (and) they were going to do everything to mess your game,” Simpson said.

SHS also had problems with East St. Louis and their fast paced offense on Saturday. East St. Louis used their fast offense to drive up scoring for SHS and the Cards could not run with their opponents and lost, 67-64.

During the East St. Louis game, SHS lost senior center Joey Brunk to a high ankle sprain. Brunks says that he will be out 2-6 weeks.
To adjust, SHS will have to rely more on their other centers junior Dut Mabok, senior Kyle Williams and senior Evan Higgs. As of the East St. Louis game, all three combined for 0.3 points per game and 0.8 rebounds per game.

“(Brunk) stepped up…and we have to have some other guys step up,” Simpson said.

Even with these low numbers, the Cards should have an easier time against a shorter Tech team. Tech only boasts two players that are 6’5”, which is the tallest on their team. Because of Tech’s limitations, Simpson expects to see a fast-pace offense so that they can beat SHS down the floor, and score points in transition.

Even in the absence of Brunk, Tech will most likely run an up tempo offense and a zone defense. Those were two of the things that SHS has struggled to deal with so far this year and have lead to their two losses.

SHS will have to contain Tech guard CJ Walker. Walker is averaging 23 points per game which is about a third of his team’s points in their first two games of the season. If SHS can cut his scoring in half, Tech could lose 11 of their points in a game.

SHS also scores less points per game than Tech. SHS scores 57 per game while Tech trumps them with 67 per game. Without Brunk, SHS will have to make up 19 points just to get back up to their average. SHS will have to score even more if they plan to keep up with Tech’s higher scoring offense.

To maximize offensive efficiency and score more points per possession, SHS has to cut down on turnovers. Going back to the preseason scrimmage against Lawrence Central where they committed 23 turnovers, they have had issues with keeping possession. Even though their turnover numbers have gone down in recent games, they will have to continue that trend against Tech.

“We turned the ball over 23 times. If you turn the ball over 23 times, I don’t care what level you’re at, it’s going to be tough to win,” Simpson said.

The game is on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at Marion High School. The tournament begins at 10 a.m. and ends after the 8:30 p.m. game between Marion and Pike. SHS plays the second to last game at 7 p.m. The tournament features five ranked teams in No. 5 Pike, No.8 Lawrence Central, No. 9 SHS, No. 19 Lawrence North and No. 20 Marion.