Knights overcome sluggish start, top Indians

Fred Van Vleet goes up for a layup for Auburn against Hononegah. The junior point guard scored 9 against Hononegah, but was 2-10 from the field to go with 5-6 from the free-throw line. Photo by Matt Nestor

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

After a slow start, the Auburn Knights found themselves down by 2 points at the end of the first quarter at home against Hononegah.

In the second quarter, Auburn (11-4, 6-0) ratcheted up the defensive pressure on the Indians (10-6, 3-3), outscoring Hononegah 14-2, gaining a 10-point lead at the half on their way to a 47-36 win to stay undefeated in conference play.

“We live off our defense,” Auburn Head Coach Bryan Ott said after the game. “I was proud of our guys for playing through the offensive sluggishness and to continue to try and make plays defensively. When you give good effort defensively, good things happen.”

The effort was led by point guard Fred Van Vleet. The junior picked up several steals in the key second-quarter run, and while he was only 2-10 from the field, he got his teammates involved in the offense.

“It seemed like there was a lid on the basket,” Ott said of the rough shooting night. “You have to give them credit. Most of those shots they had a presence defensively.”

Jake Hribal led the Indians with 10 points. Coop Lewis also had 8, but was kept in check during the second half.

Anthony Strickland led the way for Auburn with 12 points. LaMark Foote also chipped in 11. Most of their points came in a decisive 10-0 run in the last 2 minutes of the second quarter.

“The last 2 minutes of the first half was the ball game,” Ott said. “Getting the 10-point lead there gave us the cushion we needed when they tried to make their run in the third quarter. It’s a very rewarding win. The rivalry between us is very strong.”

In other NIC-10 action:

→ The Boylan Titans (13-2, 5-1) picked up a 74-67 win over the E-Rabs to stake claim to sole possession of second place. The Titans got 27 points from Armani Flannigan to go with 19 from Chris Miller and 18 from Jason Painter to lead the way. Alonte Holliday led East with 19 points. Freeport (6-9, 2-5) got the best of East (12-5, 5-3) the following evening as well, knocking off the E-Rabs 72-64.

→ Guilford (8-9, 4-2) got back in the win column behind 17 points from Keffer Simpson as the Vikings topped Jefferson (5-11, 1-5) by a final of 71-61. Dez Agee chipped in 19 for the J-Hawks.

→ Belvidere North (6-7, 4-2) kept climbing up the standings, this time topping Freeport by a final of 58-49. Brandon Schwebke stayed hot for the Blue Thunder, pouring in 20 to lead all scorers.

→ Harlem (7-10, 2-4) got 16 points from Michael Proscia, and the Huskies charged back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Belvidere (5-11, 0-7) by a score of 61-59.

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