CIRCLEVILLE — Following an arctic cold first half from the field on Tuesday, Circleville coach Cody Carpenter was looking for a spark to ignite the offense.
He found it in senior point guard Brandon Parr.
“Brandon’s been nursing an injury and we intended to hold him out of the game,” Carpenter revealed. “In the third quarter, Brandon said he could go and I double checked with him to make sure he was good enough to go.
“Brandon doesn’t post a ton of stats that make your eyes pop, but he’s the spark of our offense, he gets us into our offense and when he’s on the court we are able to get our other guys into more comfortable spots.”
After hitting just four shots in the first half, the host Tigers erupted for 30 second-half points to defeat the Washington Blue Lions 43-33 in a non-league game.
It was the first win for Carpenter at the helm of the Tigers. Riley Gibson scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the second half and also pulled down nine rebounds. Evan Justice followed with 12 of his 15 points in the second half and chipped in six rebounds.
The two former South Central Ohio League rivals struggled from the field in the first half, with the Tigers connecting on just 4 of 26 (15.4 percent) shots and the Blue Lions shooting 7 of 24 (29.2 percent).
“We really struggled on offense in the first half, but give credit to Washington Court House for being physical and getting us off our spots where we like to shoot,” Carpenter said. “I felt like our kids, despite the start, kept playing with good energy and that led to better things in the second half.”
Washington led 16-13 at the break and stretched its lead to five early in the third quarter on a jumper by Mitch Lotz.
Circleville (1-1) finally found some rhythm on offense and scored the next 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers by Craig Fleck and Gibson finishing the run with a coast-to-coast layup to give the Tigers a 23-18 lead.
“Craig hit a couple of big threes there for us and when a team starts making a few shots then everyone starts feeling that energy and momentum,” Carpenter said.
The Blue Lions kept their deficit at five on a put-back by Karson Runk with 6:40 remaining, but that’s when the Tigers made their move with a decisive 15-3 run.
Justice nailed a triple from the left wing and then the Tigers cashed in three-straight turnovers by the Blue Lions on another basket from Justice, followed by two more field goals via Gibson to extend their lead to 36-22.
“We moved to a 2-3 zone defense there and I felt that helped us slow them down and our kids were also active with their hands in the passing lanes and were able to get a few turnovers,” Carpenter said. “With Brandon in the game, Riley was able to release down the floor earlier and that helped to ignite our transition game.”
Circleville pushed its lead to 42-22 following a pair of free throws by Justice with 3:07 remaining.
Trevor Rarick was held scoreless after a nine-point first half for the Blue Lions and Lotz also scored nine points.
The Tigers finished the evening 16 of 47 (34 percent) from the field, compared to the Blue Lions going 14 of 50 (28 percent). Washington had seven of its 16 turnovers in the fourth quarter and the Tigers finished with nine.
The Blue Lions held a 31-25 advantage on the glass.
Washington (0-3) will begin Frontier Athletic Conference play Friday at McClain. The j-v game starts at 6 p.m.
Circleville opens Mid-State League Buckeye Division play on Saturday at Hamilton Township.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W 6 10 4 13 — 33
C 4 9 12 18 — 43
WASHINGTON — Brice Cartwright 0 (1)-0-3; Karson Runk 1-0-2; Drew Moats 2-0-4; Mitch Lotz 3 (1)-0-9; Tanner Lemaster 1 (1)-1-6; Trevor Rarick 3 (1)-0-9. TOTALS — 10 (4)-1-33. Free throw shooting: 1 of 2 for 50 percent. Three-point field goals: Cartwright, Lotz, Lemaster, Rarick. Field goal shooting 14 of 50 for 28 percent.
CIRCLEVILLE — Ethan Moore 1-0-2; Riley Gibson 7-2-16; Evan Justice 2 (2)-5-15; Jake Bell 2-0-4; Craig Fleck 0 (2)-0-6. TOTALS — 12 (4)-7-43. Free throw shooting: 7 of 19 for 37 percent. Three-point field goals: Fleck, 2; Justice, 2. Field goal shooting: 16 of 47 for 34 percent.