By Jeff Rancudo
Dalton State College men’s basketball coach Tony Ingle was looking for answers and a few players to step up Saturday and show they were ready to provide the depth and effort in the season’s stretch run.
Not that the Roadrunner’s coach is desperate, but Ingle didn’t win a national championship at Kennesaw State and take the recently revived Roadrunners to stunning heights this year by settling for the status quo.
Lucky for Ingle, his Roadrunners were more than ready for Allen University. With defense, swarms of fresh players coming off the bench and timely scoring, Dalton State cruised to a 73-50 win in front of a homecoming crowd inside the trade center in Dalton.
The Roadrunners (22-3) held the visiting Yellow Jackets (6-12) from Columbia, S.C., to 25 percent field goal shooting, including just 2-for-22 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Dalton State outrebounded Allen 58-40 and blocked four Yellow Jacket shots. Demetrice Jacobs, Sean Tate and Anthony Hillard also each nailed a pair of 3-pointers in a game where 12 of the 14 Roadrunners who stepped on the court scored.
Ingle played everyone at Ingle played everyone at least nine minutes and used the game as a measuring stick to see how ready Dalton State is for its upcoming four-game road trip. Of the four away games, only one of the four foes had a winning record as of Saturday, that being the first opponent, 12-9 Faulkner (Ala.) University, on Feb. 13.
“This game was about letting everybody play, working on team principles and playing better on defense,” Ingle said. “What we’re trying to do is build on the principles we’ve established. We’re fixing to go on a four-game road trip. We had four guys foul out against Southern Wesleyan (earlier in the season), and we need guys who can step in and help us. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that impressed today.”
Ricky Sears and Hillard both scored 13 points as Dalton State built a 49-28 halftime lead and never felt heat from the Yellow Jackets. Allen guard Deangelo Anthony entered Saturday’s game fresh off a 45-point game, but the Roadrunners held him to 8 of 31 field goal shooting, including just 2 of 12 from 3-point range. He still finished with 23 points.
If Allen had any chance to come back, Sears slammed the door by scoring the first 10 points of the second half for Dalton State.
Dalton State started fast as Preston Earle hit a jumper and 3-pointer, followed by a 3-pointer from Tate and two free throws from Ladaris Green for a 10-2 lead. While Earle gave Ingle confidence with his outside game, several tall inside enforcers gave the coach hope as well. The 6-foot, 10-inch Green grabbed 10 rebounds in the game. Erich Allen, who is 6-foot-7, aided the effort with seven rebounds and 6-foot-8 Nathan Terry notched five rebounds and two blocks.
“We gave good team effort today, and we were trying to get better on our (defensive) rotation from our last game (a loss to Life),” said Sears, who had two steals. “We rebounded well, pushed the ball and penetrated a lot more.”