Trying to keep up with a vicious pace, Creston boys basketball opened its season at home with a 66-39 loss against Winterset Monday night.
The Panthers came into the season with a new up-tempo offensive style, but Creston wasn’t the only group that played a fast pace. The Huskies blew out of the gate with a 6-1 run to start the game behind ball movement and transition points.
Winterset’s pace was electric as the starters busted down the lane offensively. It was tough for the Panthers to keep up with as new rotations of players happened frequently. The difference in conditioning is something that was easy to notice with the intense pace of play.
“I know they realized that going half on conditioning isn’t getting them any better,” Creston head coach Bryce Schafer said. “They can think that they’re going hard, but they’re not going hard enough. That’s what we can show them in film.”
Trying to match the speed, Creston stayed in the game early by getting to the foul line. Four of the Panthers’ eight first quarter points were from the free throw line.
Winterset’s shooting was lackluster early on, but its ability to score inside was the main factor for the early lead. Six of the Huskies’ 13 points came from inside the lane, picking up from where they left off last season, an 18-7 year in third place in class 3A.
After that semifinal run, the Huskies only lost one senior. Returning so many upperclassmen showed the experience of the group. The chemistry of another year together was on display as Winterset passed the ball around the key, drove inside and assisted each other throughout all four quarters.
“[We] couldn’t stop the straight line drive,” said Schafer. “They (Winterset) got a lot of second chance opportunities. Their drives led to easy kick-out-threes. They weren’t hitting at the beginning of the game, which kept us in the game, but as they got the rhythm, that started really destroying us.”
The second quarter was a continuation of the first as the Huskies went on a 15-6 run to start the second quarter. Creston struggled to shoot the ball from beyond the arc only making one in the half. Free throws continued to be the only source of scoring for the Panthers as they couldn’t knock down shots or stop Winterset’s offense.
“Beginning to end our defense was terrible, awful, atrocious,” Schafer said.
At halftime, the Panthers trailed 35-19, but it was a positive theme to start the second half. “Stay level” and “live within the moment” was the message Schafer imparted on his team during the break.
Despite the encouraging words, things continued to trend downward for Creston. An 11-2 run started the second half and things spiraled down from there. but not before Creston could make a run of its own.
The Panthers were led by Brance Baker. During the third quarter, he accounted for five of Creston’s points during a short-lived 9-4 run. Baker finished with a team-leading 13 points.
Things weren’t all negative for the Panthers. Creston was able to “check off boxes” on guys that can play at a high level and those who aren’t there yet.
“I think Kaden Briggs showed a lot tonight,” said Schafer. “He was a pretty gritty player, one of the few guys that I thought played all the way through the game hard. ... He crashed glass, did a nice job finishing in the paint, so I was impressed by him.”
Briggs – along with Baker – was part of the group that kept Creston in the game early with free throws. Briggs hit four first half free throws on his way to a 10 point performance.
Overall, Schafer said that this was a learning game for his team, and, with the film from the game, they can see where they need to be to compete effectively.
“A lot of good stuff we got out of it,” Schafer said. “A lot of good film, so this is a good kind of team we needed to start the year off with, so we could see what level we have to be at in playoffs.”
UP NEXT – Creston (0-1) travels to Atlantic for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off tonight (Tuesday) night.
Creston fell just short of a comeback against Winterset during a 51-44 loss Monday night.
The Panthers trailed early after Winterset went on a run to take a 26-24 lead at halftime.
Creston played man-to-man early, but the defense played well once it switched to a zone.
“We switched to a zone defense and went on a run to cut it to two late, but Winterset hit some key shots down the stretch to win it,” Creston coach Todd Jacobson said. “Turnovers were the key in this one as Winterset took advantage of our poor passing at times and turned them into easy baskets on the other end.”
Cole Strider led the team in scoring with 12 points. Kyle Strider followed suit with 10 points. Derek Paup and Avery followed each put up eight points.
Winterset 66, Creston 39