Lutheran boys’ basketball coach Remus Woods easily summed up the Saints’ latest Indiana Crossroads win against visiting Triton Central Saturday night.
“We got the engine rolling,” the fourth-year coach said after Lutheran upped its record to 10-3 and 4-1 in league play, 74-61.
The “engine” Woods referred to is the Saints potent offense with hot-shooting transfer Durray Smith and the inside threat of the Pattersons, a ball-hawking defense led by LJ Ward and DeVaun Jones, and endless intensity on both ends of the court.
It took Lutheran a while against the Tigers to fire up the “engine” Saturday.
TC jumped to an impressive 22-12 first-quarter lead on seven-of-nine shooting and a tight zone defense that had the Saints on their heels.
The Saints “engine” then lit up by forcing five turnovers and a lighting-fast 18-5 run for a 30-27-lead within five minutes. Smith hit on two 3s enroute to a team-high 20 points, 6-3 soph Cayden Loescher added four points and four more Saints scored two points apiece.
Lutheran, ranked No. 6 in Class A, never trailed after that flurry.
“I think we were tight against their zone and over-thinking some things,” said Smith, a welcome transfer from Plainfield. “Once we played relaxed, we finally played our game”.
The 5-11 senior continued, “Our defense is a big factor that gets us going; especially LJ (Ward), he’s a crazy athletic defender.”
Smith was one of four Saints in double figures with Ward, 13 points, and Jones and Loescher, 10 points each. Kam Patterson had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Smith had six 3s on efficient shooting.
“Coach (Woods) says he has me on this team for a reason – just shoot the ball,” Smith grinned. “When I shoot, I try to use my legs to elevate, keep my elbow under me, keep calm and relax.”
The Tigers cut the Saints lead to 36-35 at the half. Using skip passes against the zone and man-to-man defensive pressure, the Saints led 53-44 at the end of three quarters. Lutheran’s biggest lead was 73-54.
Lutheran has eight games left in the regular season, including a league battle against visiting Beech Grove at 7:30 p.m. Friday.