CHESTERTON — Scoring the first 10 points of the game showed that Chesterton's boys basketball was ready to get the season started on Wednesday night at home against Gary West Side.
Ending the game with 12 of 15 free throws made in the fourth quarter showed the Trojans know how to finish what they started.
In between, there were some bumps along they way, but the end result was still a convincing 74-50 Chesterton victory.
"It was a close game, within seven or eight points there for a while and we just started making some shots, making a couple threes to pull away," said Trojan's head coach Tom Peller.
And you can expect more of that 70-plus point output based on the tempo of the game.
"We want to play fast, but I told the kids we still need to guard people while playing up tempo," Peller said.
There were a few points of the game in which Chesterton didn't defend as well as Peller would have liked. West Side cut a 13-point first-half lead down to five late in the second quarter with possession of the ball in the final half minute. That's when Trojans' point guard Rhyss Lewis had one of his three steals and broke away for a thunderous slam dunk with 17.2 seconds left.
It ignited the crowd and held off the Cougars, who never got any closer than nine points in the second half.
Lewis led the Trojans with 19 points, but it was another player that stood out to Peller, even if the coach didn't realize how much.
"He had 18 points? I didn't realize he scored 18," Peller said when told that senior forward Jack Mullen had just one point less than Lewis. "He's a quiet, steady and consistent performer who's improved from last year."
Mullen also had six rebounds and two steals.
"I spent more time in the weight room and gym to improve my agility and develop a pull-up (shooting) game," said Mullen, who was efficient with a pair of 3-pointers and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. "Coach told us we needed to make a statement tonight to start the season."
One of the statements made for any coaches scouting the Trojans (at least two fellow Duneland Conference coaches were in the crowd on Wednesday) was that they are going to be balanced. After losing a 23-point-per-game scorer in Chris Palombizio to graduation, the Trojans had three players in double figures and the first eight players off the bench all scoring at least three points.
"Balance is going to be our forte this year with everybody contributing," Peller said.
Antwan Beeks added 11 points, while Chesterton's bench outscored West Side's 17-9, led by Ray Yagelski's seven points and Niles Dilosa's six points. Sophomore Austin Peterson added six rebounds.
Jeff Townsend was lights out from long distance for the Cougars with six 3-pointers made on his way to a game-high 22 points, while Ion Falkner added nine points and nine rebounds for the Cougars.
Reach assistant sports editor Steve T. Gorches at email@example.com or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.
CHESTERTON 74, GART WEST SIDE 50
GARY WEST (0-1)
J. Smith 3 1-2 8, J Townsend 7 2-4 22, I. Falkner 3 2-4 9, B. Porter 0 2-4 2, G. Davis 0 0-0 0, T. Green 0 0-0 0, L. Griffin 3 0-0 7, T. Harris 0 0-0 0, M. Modacure 0 0-0 0, J. Cannon 0 1-3 1, J. Johnson 0 1-1 1. Totals — 16 9-18 50.
R. Lewis 6 5-6 19, A. Beeks 5 0-1 11, K. Palombizio 1 2-2 5, J. Mullen 5 6-6 18, J. Weber 1 2-2 4, N. Dilosa 2 1-2 6, R. Yagelski 2 3-4 7, A. Peterson 1 1-2 3, E. Ralph 0 0-1 0, E. Conway 0 0-0 0, B. Cortwright 0 1-2 1. Totals — 23 21-28 74.
Gart West`10`13`15`12 — 50
Chesterton`17`13`20`24 — 74
3-point shooting — West Side 9-20 (Townsend 6); Chesterton 7-23 (Lewis 2, Mullen 2). Rebounding — West Side 29 (Falkner 9); Chesterton 35 (Mullen 6, Peterson 6, Weber 6). Assists — West Side 7 (Cannon 3); Chesterton 10 (Dilosa 3). Total fouls — West Side 25, Chesterton 21. Turnovers — West Side 24, Chesterton 12.