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Lions get on serious roll to sting visiting Hornets, 88-64

Ennis explodes for 32-point third quarter against Athens
After opening the season against a series of much tougher foes, the Ennis Lions were able to jump all over the Athens Hornets on Monday night.
The Lions (1-4) faced a first-quarter deficit, but handily won each quarter from there to secure an 88-64 victory. In a game that coach Jerry Mason said his team was expected to win, Ennis got the job done.
“It was good for these guys to get a big win and see their shots go in,” Mason said.
“This was a team we were supposed to beat and I let the guys know it was important that they play well.”
The Lions entered the night coming off three games in the Highland Park Scot Classic. Ennis most recently lost to St. Marks on Saturday by eight points. Jordan Mason scored 30 points, while J.T. Florence (14) and Derrick Green (11) also reached double figures.
There are a lot of good stats to be found in an 88-point showing, and several Lions put up strong numbers on Monday. Freshman Mason continued to light up the scoreboard in the early stages of the season with 30 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks. Florence (19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 steals), Chris Randel (15 points, 5 rebounds, assist, 4 steals) and Jay Radway (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals) also scored in double figures. Green (8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) and Kyle Anderson (4 points, 4 rebounds, steal, 2 blocks) each made their fair share of plays.
The early stages of the opening quarter were kind to the Lions as Mason drilled a wing three off a Radway assist, while Florence and Green each hit a pair of free throws for a 7-2 lead. After Radway took a Mason pass and got a runner to fall, however, Athens finished the quarter on an 8-0 run (9-13) capped off by a three-pointer. Green did a good job on the offensive boards with a trio of early rebounds, but the Lions had several scoring opportunities inside that they didn’t capitalize on.
“I’ve been emphasizing rebounding all the time and sometimes when we’re watching film, the guys will see themselves standing around,” Mason said.
“Our transition defense isn’t as good as we’d like it to be, so anytime we miss shots it’s a concern.”
Mason got off to a tremendous start in the second quarter and it seemed to spark the whole team. He made good on a couple of driving runners – including a three-point play the old-fashioned way. The freshman also blocked a shot, took a charge, assisted Radway and made a steal as he knocked down both of the free throws that followed.
“We need to take more charges against these bigger teams we’re going to face,” the coach said.
“We got a few blocks tonight, but that can be a mirage when you’re trying to do that against quality teams.”
As turnovers began to mount for the Hornets, Radway got going when he drove down the lane for a runner and then took a Green pass for a transition layup. Mason, who tallied three steals and two blocks in the first half, stayed aggressive to work his way to an 11-point quarter and Florence attacked the hoop for an and-one play to give the host Lions a 31-27 halftime advantage.
“Coach Mason told us to keep driving to the hole and eventually they’d foul,” Florence said.
“We executed well with the drive-and-kick to our shooters tonight. We had a lot of mistakes, but it all turned out positive.”
“Jordan has been having one big quarter in most games and hopefully he’ll start to put two or three of them together,” the coach said.
“In those quarters he doesn’t have it going, somebody else has to step up and Jordan has to find other ways to contribute. He can be an excellent defender as he learns not to pick up cheap fouls.
“Jay was doing something different by attacking the middle. He had been pressing as far as his outside shot and basketball is the wrong sport for that.”
Ennis couldn’t have asked for much more at the offensive end in the third quarter as it erupted for 32 points. Radway assisted Green on a corner three and then drove the lane for another one of his runners. Randel and Green followed with consecutive layups off their own steals and the Hornets called a timeout.
“We got a little anxious going after steals and gave up some early buckets, but we also tracked down a lot of [Athens’] longer passes to put some good runs together,” Mason said.
The coach called a quick Lion timeout after a few Athens points and Florence came up with his second three-point play in the last-two quarters to fire up the crowd. He scored on a putback and assisted Randel in transition for a 12-point lead as the Hornet coach called another timeout with the game getting away from him.
Mason soon attacked the basket for more free throws and hit a three-pointer off a Randel inbounds pass. Florence got a fast-break runner to fall and wrapped up the quarter with a steal and pass to Randel for a three-pointer (63-46).
“Our shots hadn’t been falling like we wanted lately, so it was big to get it going tonight and stay on a roll,” Florence said.
“If all our starters can score in double figures regularly, it will really help out our team.”
“The third quarter has been our nemesis, so we wanted to come out of halftime and maintain the lead we had,” Mason said.
“We picked it up in the press and got a lot of easy baskets off turnovers. Once we got more aggressive going to the basket, our threes started falling. We have to have those threes because they’ll often be the difference in a win or a loss.”
Though the Hornets were putting up points more frequently than they had in the opening half, the Ennis offense continued to roll. Green assisted Randel and Mason on three-pointers early in the quarter, while Randel and Florence created baskets off their own steals.
“J.T.’s basketball skills aren’t always crisp, but his speed and the fight within him allow him to stay in the game,” Mason said.
“When it’s all said and done, he’s a guy you want to go to war with. Chris is a hard worker who’s very confident and I like that about him. He played well tonight.”
Anderson and Mason both blocked shots in the fourth. Mason would finish his big night with another three-point play and Randel answered a Hornet three with his own three off a Ravi Dubose pass to finalize the score.
“That’s the first time our threes really started falling this year,” Mason said.
“You don’t want to take it for granted when you have a big quarter because then you start gambling [defensively] and giving up easy baskets. I’m pleased to see good things happen for a freshman like Kyle and hopefully he builds off this. Joseph [Hardaway] was in there battling and he utilizes everything I’ve tried to teach him.”
Ennis will now travel to Highland Park for an 8 p.m. game tonight.
“We’ve got a really good Highland Park team who’s just missed a trip to state the last two years up next, so our guys need to go out there and play well against a good opponent,” the coach said.

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Posted by on Nov 25 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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