Following a disappointing season-opening loss Saturday at Murray County, Dalton boys basketball coach Mike Duffie was looking for more intensity from his team against new Whitfield County rival Coahulla Creek on Tuesday night.
But after the first quarter and with his team holding just a four-point lead, Duffie wasn’t getting what he was wanting.
“We didn’t start too bad, but we were just trying too hard to score rather than letting things open up,” Duffie said. “In the second and third quarters, we did a much better job of that.”
Using its full-court press much more effectively, the Catamounts turned that four-point lead in a 22-point advantage at the half en route to a 76-40 win over the Colts at the Cats Den.
It turned into a night of double redemption for Dalton’s boys and girls, who also lost to Murray County on Saturday. The Lady Catamounts led by 22 points at the end of the first quarter as they rolled to an easy 57-23 victory over Coahulla Creek.
Dalton’s boys led 16-12 at the end of the first quarter as the Colts were able to handle Dalton’s pressure just enough to stay a step behind the Cats on the scoreboard. But in the second quarter, the turnovers started coming Dalton’s way, setting up easy baskets on the other end of the court, and Robert Enck’s basket in transition capped a 15-4 run by the Cats that started at the period’s beginning.
Things didn’t get any better for the Colts (0-2) in the third quarter as Dalton pushed its lead to 35 points.
Rico Mears scored all of his game-high 23 points in those three quarters, and Alex Bautista added 13 points, five steals and four assists.
“Until we get into game shape and get our hands back coming out of football, we are going to go through spurts with our offense,” Duffie said. “I liked our defensive pressure, and our defensive rotation was good, but we have to quit fouling so much. But I liked the way we got up and down the floor and we got a lot of people some good floor time.”
Coahulla Creek senior forward Cordarius Tarver finished with 16 points.
Colts coach Matthew Queener said one reason he scheduled the Cats early in the season was that he knew it would provide an opportunity to learn from mistakes.
“They are a good team, and they show us things that we are going to see from our region opponents later in the year,” said Queener, whose team opens Region 5-3A competition Friday night against Sonoraville.
“We are going to see a lot of pressure defenses, and Dalton does it better than any other team in the area. It is a situation we are going to see again, and we learned some things tonight. We found out what some people can do, and we saw a lot of things we have to work on.”
• Dalton girls 57, Coahulla Creek 23: Taylor Behr, Hannah Cox and Carson Sharp all scored in double digits as the Dalton defense smothered the Lady Colts in the win.
“It was just important to play better whether we won or lost after our loss to Murray County,” Dalton coach Jeff McKinney said. “We came back on Monday and had a good practice and had a good film session. The girls responded well and played really hard.”
Dalton forced 16 first-half turnovers while gaining a 43-11 advantage.
Behr led all scorers with 13 points, while Cox and Sharp each had 11. Maddie Howell, expected to be the team’s top scoring threat this season, is still limited with an ankle injury.
Nikki Ross led the Lady Colts (0-2) with seven points.