LEO — Churubusco boys basketball hadn’t won a season opener under head coach Chris Paul since he filled the position in 2016. The Eagles began the 2016-17 season 0-3 and the 2017-18 season 0-6.
But the 2018-19 season began differently for the three-year coach and his Eagles, as they defeated a Leo team that has found success in these matchups in recent seasons, 73-60.
“Our goal was to get to the rim offensively, move the basketball around and, defensively, apply as much pressure as possible,” Paul said. “I felt like we were able to do that for the most part.”
Defensively, the Eagles were strong from the tip, as they forced eight turnovers in the first quarter — 22 over the course of the game. While it went 6-for-13 in the first quarter, Churubusco still missed some high-percentage shots that could have made its 15-8 lead much more commanding.
Thanks to sophomore Blake Davison’s nine first-half points and Leo’s combined 19 points and only two turnovers in the second quarter, the Lions were trailing by only three points, 30-27, at halftime despite 10 turnovers.
But Churubusco had already asserted itself in the form of senior forwards Brayton Bonar and Mason Garland. The two seniors had combined for 10 rebounds by halftime, and Bonar rattled off 11 points.
“We’re an attacking team, both offensively and defensively,” Paul said. “We have to because we’re not the tallest team. But we do have some strength. Even our guards are pretty physical players. I think we were able to use our aggression to our benefit.”
Coming out of halftime, Leo began to press more defensively. But with the guard play of sophomores Jackson Paul and Luke McClure, Churubusco was able to elude too many turnovers, coughing the ball up just three times in the third quarter.
Simultaneously, Paul was able to find his stroke offensively. The point guard had missed his first eight field goal attempts of the game before getting a layup to go near the buzzer in the second quarter.
Once Paul’s shots sank, Leo’s defense, which was already struggling with the strength of Bonar and Garland, began to step up and leave the two interior seniors open for Paul’s dump-offs.
Bonar finished with a game-high 24 points and six rebounds, while Garland completed a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Paul maintained possession and let off even more shots in the second half, hitting 5-of-6 free throws and converting 5-of-7 field goal attempts in the second half to post 19 points overall.
For Chris Paul, despite the Eagles getting sloppy with the ball near the end of the game with a 10-point lead, he said he was proud that his team limited a heavy 3-point shooting team to no 3-pointers in the second half and was content with the composure of his team in a season-opening road game.
“I told them, ‘We have a lot of experience coming back,’” Paul said. “‘Just relax and play the game. Don’t get caught up in first game or thinking this or thinking that.’ To be able to come in here and get that first win after a long layoff, it was good to be able to get that win under our belt.”
Eagles fall to Westview in home opener
CHURUBUSCO — By whatever definition, Westview’s 86-50 win over Churubusco Friday was dominating.
The Warriors (3-0) got 33 points from junior Charlie Yoder. Seniors Elijah Hales would score 26 and Josh Hostetler chipped in 15.
The top-ranked team in Class 2A put on an offensive exhibition, exploding for 46 first-half points.
While Warrior fans chanted “you can’t stop us,” the enthusiasm was hardly an exaggeration.
After the game, Churubusco coach Chris Paul called the Warrior effort flawless, frequently.
“I told our guys if they play like that, they don’t get beat,” Paul confided. “They played perfect. Even when our defensive coverage was good, they didn’t miss.”
For Westview coach Rob Yoder, his squad is no where close to arriving.
“We’ll find plenty of things wrong on tape. But, we are an experienced group and have a pretty good skill set and have had some success,” Yoder said. “At this stage in their careers, they aren’t making many mistakes. But, there are some things we need to clean up.”
He credits a team with a number of three- and four-year starters.
“We don’t expect some of the mistakes that a young team would make. We did a lot of things right, but a season is about improvement,” Coach Yoder explained.
Charlie Yoder set the tone early, scoring the Warriors’ first 11 points. His offensive might built a 6-0 lead. Westview would never trail again as he poured in 14 points in the first quarter.
Jackson Paul finished with 17 points for the Eagles.
The Warriors (3-0, 1-0 NECC) enjoyed a 17-point second quarter lead at 46-29 with 37 seconds to play on a basket by Yoder.
The Eagles could pull no closer than seven points at 31-24.
The Warriors opened the third quarter riding an 11-0 run over nearly 4 minutes to build a 59-35 lead. That lead would inflate to 34 points, 78-44, late in the fourth quarter.
Jackson Paul led Churubusco with 17 points, followed by Gage Kelly and Brayton Bonar with nine apiece.