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December 26, 2013

South's pressure defense helps Braves dominate Marshall

Braves advance to second-round matchup vs. Casey

TERRE HAUTE — Statement games come in all shapes and sizes. The statement that Terre Haute South made against Marshall in its Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic opener was to punch early and punch often with a withering defensive assault.

South’s ability to force its pressure defense and transition offense on the Lions was a complete success and the 78-39 final score indicated just how dominant the Braves were.

“You work on a gameplan and once in a while it all falls apart right off the bat. It’s nice to have one work,” said self-effacing South coach Scott Ridge.

“Everything we asked the team to do, they did.”

Marshall had 26 turnovers in the contest and South tallied 16 steals as seven Braves had at least one. The die was cast from the beginning as South scored four of its first six buckets off turnovers, a trend that only briefly abated for the shell-shocked Lions.

“We knew coming out today that we had to put pressure on the ball and create turnovers. We knew we had to control the tempo. We knew we couldn’t slow it down,” South’s Timmy Herrin said.

The Braves had a balanced scoring attack. Herrin led the Braves with 16 points. Jaylen Minnett added 13 points. Connor Shipley had 12, but nine were scored in South’s 19-2 run to start the game, and all 12 were scored in the opening quarter.

Ridge believes his team can go 10-deep and felt Thursday’s game was a good example of the Braves’ potential. But even among those 10, there were performances that warmed his heart, particularly that of Shipley.

“It was good to get Shipley 12 points in the first quarter. He’s our emotional leader and a good kid. Our kids know he’s a good shooter and it was good for some shots to go in for him,” Ridge said.

For Marshall, it was a sobering day. Marshall had six turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, prompting Marshall coach Tom Brannan to call two early timeouts and three in the first quarter.

“We weren’t prepared. It was poor coaching on my part. We weren’t ready. I’ve never had a team play that way here,” Brannan said.

Brannan was asked if South’s pressure was something the Lions were unaccustomed to.

“We see it all of the time time. We see it against Casey and Olney [Marshall’s Little Illini Conference foes]. We didn’t feel too good about the moment, I guess,” Brannan said.

For a brief period, Marshall settled down, and just as importantly, began to hit its outside shots. After the poor start, Marshall’s deficit was just 25-14 at the end of the first quarter and the Lions cut their deficit to eight early in the second quarter.

But South’s pressure was too much. An 11-3 run in the second quarter helped the Braves swell their lead back to 16. South settled for a 36-22 halftime lead.

Any hopes of a Marshall second-half revival ended in a 14-2 South run to start the third quarter. Once again, it was turnovers that undid the Lions … Marshall had 10 in the third quarter alone.

South will play Casey in a quarterfinal today. The Warriors play a similar style to South, which could make for a high-octane game. Marshall plays Monrovia in a consolation quarterfinal. It’s the first time since 2005 that Marshall didn’t win its opening game in the Classic.

For South, the positive start to the Classic is important for a team that has seven juniors who want to give the Braves their first championship in the event since 2007.

“It’s a great start. We had this as a statement game to get our confidence going,” Herrin said.

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