KOUTS — With two minutes left in the third quarter in their Porter County Conference opener at Kouts, South Central head coach Joe Wagner called a quick 30-second timeout to settle his bunch down in a game they trailed by just four at 34-30.
He could feel the game slipping away.
"We just don't have a large margin for errors," Wagner said after the game. "A four-point lead can become a 23-point lead really quickly."
Following the timeout, the Mustangs got the ball on the baseline underneath the South Central basket and as quick as a hiccup, the game continued to slide away from the Satellites, as the sharpshooter Cale Wireman canned a wide-open triple from the wing for three of his game-high 20 points to push the lead back out to 37-30 in favor of the home side.
From that point on, it was all Kouts, scoring 26 of the next 36 points in the contest to hand the Satellites their fifth loss in the first six games of the season in a 63-40 decision in a game where the visitors only trailed by two at the half at 22-20 after a half where they had almost as many turnovers (16) as total points scored.
"Our attention to detail in that first half defensively was really good," Wagner said. "I think we had, like, 16, 17 turnovers in the first half and to be only down two was really good for us. Luckily, most of those turnovers didn't go for points, which has been our Achilles heel. We got some things going in the second quarter to keep it close, but we fell asleep too many times in the second half and it got away from us."
After trailing by six through the opening eight minutes of play, the muck-it-up style of play that was taking place favored the Satellites, who got nine of their 12 total points in the stanza from junior guard Zach Christy, who finished with a team-high 14 points along with Brady Glisic.
"(Zach is) one of those kids that doesn't realize how good he can really be," Wagner said. "We're trying to work on fundamental things with him, but he's gonna be a good one."
It was Glisic that provided the spark in the third frame, scoring half of his 14 points in the first few minutes of the quarter to keep the Satellites in the contest before the late surge sparked by Wireman's triple and the other two Wiremans (Brent and Cole) who combined for 20 points themselves.
"Brady did a nice job. If you know Brady, you know he's got an aggressiveness to him when he plays. He plays extremely fast. Tonight, I thought he did a good job of playing controlled and setting his feet, using ball screens, knocked down a 3-ball early in the third ... I thought he did a nice job of playing with pace rather than playing in a hurry."
The lead was four.
Then it was nine thanks to a pair of Cale Wireman triples.
Once Wagner took his first full timeout of the game, it was 13 at 49-36 with just 5:19 left in the game. With a team that's limited offensively in terms of options, that's an insurmountable deficit to overcome.
"I think they did a much better job attacking those off-ball screens," Wagner said on Kouts' second-half performance that saw them miss just four of their 19 shot attempts in the final two quarters.
"We didn't do a good enough job fighting through those ball screens and we're giving up wide-open 3-balls. They're a team that feeds off momentum. You can watch it on tape or watch them live and see it. Once they get going, they become kinda difficult to stop and it kinda steamrolled for us."
Reach Michael Whitlow at email@example.com or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.
Kouts 63, South Central 40
The Satellites trailed by just two at the half (22-20), but gave up 41 second-half points to drop their fifth game in the first six this season.