DE SOTO, Mo. – North County has established a reputation in recent years for paying the physical price needed to coax opposing basketball teams into excessive offensive fouls.
The Raiders picked up where they left off during their first defensive possession of the season Monday night, as Grant Mullins stood his ground to draw a charging call in a punishing collision.
Four other senior starters scored in double digits, and North County defeated Fox 78-56 following a dominant first half to open the Fountain City Classic.
Layne Wigger routinely drilled mid-range shots while totaling 20 of his game-high 26 points prior to halftime. Andrew Civey provided a double-double inside with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Aggressive perimeter defense helped North County (1-0) lead the entire way while marking a winning return for head coach Dan Johnson in his second stint with the program.
After Wigger knocked down his first 3-pointer of the game, Civey received a bounce pass in traffic and completed a basket through contact to highlight a 12-2 start.
The Raiders created several loose-ball scrambles that resulted in multiple players converging on the floor, and forced enough turnovers to offset some moderate foul trouble.
Wigger struck from the corner off an inbound after reserve guard Zane Huff spun in a reverse layup for a 19-6 advantage as the first quarter concluded.
Kooper Kekec finished with 13 points and eight assists – often dishing passes into Civey for made field goals – before fouling out with 4:06 remaining.
By that juncture, the Raiders were on the verge of invoking a running clock. Jobe Smith, who chipped in 12 points, made a steal and attacked down the left side for a layup at 69-40.
Fox (0-1) only suffered eight turnovers in the first half, but many of its shots were heavily contested as opposing defenders swarmed toward the lane.
The Warriors also struggled to contain the increased precision of Wigger inside the arc after North County attempted nine 3-point shots in the first quarter.
Wigger swished a floater from the right baseline, and twice curled around screens to make layups as the lead widened to 32-11.
Civey muscled in a putback while fouled, and scored again off a diagonal lob from Kekec. Wigger added a reverse layup, and North County was cruising 43-18 at halftime.
Cayden Keisker opened the third quarter in better fashion for Fox with a driving runner and ensuing 3-pointer. He matched forward Max Chrzanowski with a team-high nine points.
But the Raiders continued to execute well at the offensive end. Smith drained a corner 3-pointer, Wigger landed another pull-up jumper and Kekec found an alley to the rim for a 56-28 separation.
Fox posted a 21-16 scoring edge in the fourth quarter, as North County rested its starters late, but made just 13-of-27 free throws overall.
Tim Pisoni netted eight points, and Chrzanowski grabbed 10 rebounds for the Warriors.
North County continues pool play against Cape Central on Friday.
Ste. Genevieve 63, De Soto 40
DE SOTO, Mo. – Ste. Genevieve opened its season with five minutes of shutout defense, then amassed a large enough lead to withstand an alarming number of whistles.
Senior guard Ricky Hunter shined offensively with 25 points and three assists, and Ste. Genevieve forced 23 turnovers to defeat De Soto 63-40 at the Fountain City Classic.
Although the teams combined for 54 fouls during the disjointed contest, Ste. Genevieve (1-0) controlled the smoother stretches at the outset of the first and third quarters.
De Soto (0-2) tallied just one field goal over the first 11 minutes, and yielded an initial 9-0 run as Tucker Reed scored three times on entry passes across the paint.
Ste. Genevieve crashed the boards for several offensive rebounds in the opening period, and pushed the margin to 17-3 on a fourth-chance putback from senior Kaden Flye.
Reed provided 13 points and nine rebounds among three new starters, while four-year varsity player Aiden Boyer compiled nine points, seven rebounds and four assists in the victory.
Hunter made 7-of-9 free throws to defy an otherwise struggling trend for both clubs, and nailed his first 3-pointer in the right corner to help Ste. Genevieve lead 32-13 at halftime.
He began the third quarter with a steal and layup before sinking an ensuing 3-pointer. A dazzling runner off the glass while drawing contact punctuated it, and restored a 47-28 advantage with 1.5 seconds left after patiently holding for the last shot.
De Soto hoped to chip away when Evan McClinton finished a nice leaner along the left baseline at 40-23, but could not capitalize when fouls piled up against its opponent.
Kingston transfer Rhylin Neel brought the host squad to 53-36 with two free throws. De Soto collectively finished 12-of-34, however, with Ste. Genevieve hitting 18-of-34 from the line.
Hunter highlighted the fourth quarter in transition with a stellar 25-foot bounce pass to a streaking Reed, as part of a clinching 9-1 push.
Collin Fritsch was a defensive key along the perimeter, and also chipped in seven points. Ste. Genevieve will face Sikeston in pool play on Friday.
Cole McClinton equaled Evan McClinton with 11 points each for De Soto in the second game played under new head coach and former Farmington standout guard D.J. Hardy.