Rutland normally likes to keep the defensive pressure cranked all the way up.
A little bit of early foul trouble, however, caused Rutland head coach Ron Christian to ease up on the pressure a bit during the second quarter Friday against Southwest. And that kept things interesting for a while.
Christian, however, turned the pressure all the way up after halftime. And what was a tie game at halftime turned into a rout.
Rutland maintained its hold on first place in GHSA Region 2-AAA, pulling away for an 88-67 victory. With a non-region rivalry game against Northeast taking place Saturday and a region showdown against Central approaching Friday, the strong second-half performance was something Christian and the Hurricanes wanted to see.
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“We did everything we do to keep the team together,” said Rutland’s Ty’lik Evans, who scored a team-high 22 points. “We got together, and we won together.”
Southwest (5-10, 4-5 Region 2-AAA) put up a strong fight in the first half. Mylik Parks tied it at 34 with 1.9 seconds remaining before halftime on a jumper that was originally waved off for offensive basket interference but was allowed following an officials conference.
Then came the pressure.
Rutland outscored Southwest 31-6 in the third quarter, with the Hurricanes (14-1, 9-0) scoring the first eight points before closing out the quarter with a 19-2 run that included three straight 3-pointers to close out the stretch.
Evans scored 13 in the third quarter, including three 3-pointers.
“We like to press,” Christian said. “We tried a couple of things in the first half.
“Some of it worked out, but we got into a little foul trouble, so we had to hold ourselves back a little bit. But when the second half came, we turned the dial back up.”
Timori Northcutt contributed 17 points for Rutland, with Dallas Smith adding 14 and Jeremy Braswell adding 12.
Justin Slocum led Southwest with 25 points, with Parks adding 21.
The Rutland girls had a strong second quarter against Southwest, making the lead it built in that quarter stand up in a 43-37 victory.
The Hurricanes outscored the Patriots 15-5 in the second quarter.
JaBree Jones led Rutland (7-5, 6-3) with 17 points, with Mikia Brown adding 10. Jasmine Burgan led Southwest (8-7, region record unavailable) with 17 points, with Philmetriss Cornelius scoring 10.