Say hello to the high-flying, run-and-gunning, full-court pressing Lowell Cardinals.
OK, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch.
But Lowell did push the pace on a few occasions on Wednesday in a season-opening 54-39 victory over Stuart Hall, deviating from the program’s penchant to run the shot clock down to the final seconds and slowing games to a crawl.
“We have some guys who can get out and move if they get a stop,” head coach Curtis Chan said. “We’re just trying to get into a flow and see where guys are early in the season.”
Considering that they held the visiting Knights to just 11 points across the two middle quarters, the box score may not suggest this is a completely different Lowell team, but the Cardinals threw in some full-court pressure and pushed the pace in transition across the middle two quarters before slowing down with a comfortable lead in the fourth.
“We wanted to get on a faster pace and get more fastbreaks,” said Troy Smith, who scored 11 points in the victory. “During our summer games, we installed a man press and a 2-2-1 press to speed up the game a little bit.”
Lowell (1-0) held Stuart Hall (0-1) to just two points in the first six-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter, taking a 26-19 lead while the Knights went just 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-4 at the line. Missed free throws were a problem all day for a Stuart Hall team that made just eight of 21 foul shots.
“We’re just not very good right now. That’s the bottom line,” Knights head coach Charley Johnson said. “We’ll figure it out and we’ll get there.”
Brett Jasper scored 13 of his 16 in the opening quarter, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers as the Knights took an early 16-15 lead after falling into an early 10-3 hole, but it was the only offensive outburst of the day for the defending Division V state champions.
“It’s felt very scattered,” Johnson said of his team, which has seen its numbers hampered while players are still in fall sports, including football and cross country. “Our JVs had six guys today, and the sixth was a kid from the freshman team.”
Lowell, on the other hand, looked far more connected, with four returning players in the starting lineup. The one newcomer was 6-foot-6 junior Sean Daly, who alternated with Jude Moreno in the post.
“They help us on the boards a lot, and they act as a safety valve on pick-and-rolls and things like that,” Smith said of the post tandem.
Alex Hedger led the Cardinals with 14 points and Brayden Lee added nine. Evan Marriott finished with six for Stuart Hall and gathered a game-high 11 rebounds.
Stuart Hall visits Half Moon Bay at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Lowell returns to the court next Thursday, playing three straight days at Jefferson in the Bud Bresnahan Blue and Gold Classic. The first of those games is a 3:30 p.m. quarterfinal against Hillsdale.
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