By Matt Sexton
JAMESTOWN — Greeneview boys basketball coach Kyle Fulk couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season.
His Rams won their fourth straight game to open the season Saturday night, defeating former Kenton Trace Conference rival East Clinton, 51-35.
“To start out 4-0, that’s the best start I’ve had here as a coach,” Fulk said. “That’s a tribute to our kids. They’re doing what we ask them and doing a great job of it.”
The game was decided on an 11-2 run that started in the final seconds of the first quarter. A free throw by Collin Wilson started the run, followed by a basket by Ethan Bradds.
Eight straight points from Mason Schneider ended the run, giving the Rams a 22-11 lead midway through the second quarter.
East Clinton (2-3) got no closer than seven points the rest of the way as they had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night.
The Astros shot just 21 percent (8 of 38) in the first three quarters. For the game, they shot 25 percent.
However, it wasn’t as if the Astros were being forced into bad shots. EC coach Tony Berlin said the team charts the quality of possessions, ranging from zero for a turnover to four for a layup.
“I was pleased with the shots we were getting,” Berlin said. “Our average was … almost three. We were getting the shots, we just weren’t making them.”
Berlin was mostly pleased with the defensive effort, and also pleased the Astros only committed 10 turnovers for the game.
“That’s one of the reasons you’ve got to play defense on the other end,” Berlin said. “You’re going to have some off-shooting nights.”
Meanwhile, the Rams shot 48 percent for the game (19 of 40). Schneider was 7 of 14 from the floor while Bradds was 6 of 14. Their size and ability to shoot both outside and inside presents matchup problems for defenses.
“Our bigs make it tough for some teams to guard us,” Fulk said. “We had some guys outside knock down some shots they haven’t made this year. If we can get those guys to knock down those shots, that’s going to space out the defense, because a lot of teams are going to try to pack it in against us.”
The 6-foot-7 Schneider and the 6-5 Bradds both hit a pair of threes in the game. Greeneview made 6 of 13 from outside the arc.
“Those guys – both Mason and Ethan – are great shooters,” Fulk said. “When they can space the floor and they can post up inside, there are some decisions coaches have to make.”
Schneider finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Bradds had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“You don’t run into too many high school teams with 6-7 kids, and both of those kids could shoot it,” Berlin said. “They’re dangerous inside and out, so they’re a hard matchup for us, especially when our tallest player is 6-2 or 6-3.”
Wyatt Floyd led the Astros with 17 points, while J.T. McCarren had 10 points and seven rebounds.
“Wyatt didn’t shoot the ball extremely well, but he’s the glue that holds this team together,” Berlin said. “My kids played hard. That’s all you can ask for.”
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Astros, as they travel to Wilmington, Tuesday to face a Hurricane team that just saw a four-year South Central Ohio League winning streak ended.
“My kids are tough,” Berlin said. “They get knocked down, they’re going to get back up. They’ll come out fighting — they’re going to have to because we go to Wilmington, Tuesday. They got beat Friday, so they’ll be trying to eat nails for breakfast and everything else.”
After a few days off, Greeneview has two more Ohio Heritage Conference games on the schedule before Christmas. Conference home games with London Madison Plains and Cedarville sandwich a non-league game at New Madison Tri-Village.
“We get a week now to relax,” Fulk said. “We’ve been playing pretty consistently. We can sit back, look at the fundamentals and figure out what we need to fix, because we’ve got some tough games coming up. When you walk into a gym at 4-0, teams are going to give you their best shot.”
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the Wilmington News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton