With seven region road games looming, the Commerce boys' basketball team wanted to leave the home fans with something special, since they won't be back in Commerce until Jan. 28.
The Tigers, led by freshman Jackson Morris' 18 points, drained 10 3-pointers en route to a 74-55 win Tuesday (Jan. 7) over Bethlehem Christian Academy. In the second quarter, the Tigers drained seven 3s.
Creed Dunbar aided Morris with 16 points. Freshman Matthew Simpson added 13 points and Ian McConnell chipped in with 12 points. For the game, the Tigers had 10 players make a basket.
"I think the depth really paid off in the second half," head coach Russ Gregg said. "I think we wore them down a little bit. We shot the ball extremely well."
Gregg was proud of how well his team played in the second quarter, particularly from downtown.
"That's pretty good. When you do that, you have a great chance of winning," he said.
Gregg wasn't thrilled in how his group performed on the boards as the Knights had a few more second-chance opportunities in his eye. He also wants to keep seeing improvement from the free-throw line.
"We had shot two free throws in the first three quarters, and we had a lead, and I think the guys just relaxed a little too much and weren't focused from the free-throw line," Gregg said. "And that's something we've got to work on. That's going to come back later and get you if you don't improve on that."
Gregg was proud of how the younger players played in big minutes vs. the Knights. Morris and Simpson combined for 31 points.
"It was good to see (them) come out like they did tonight and have a big game," Gregg said.
The Knights opened the game fast, scoring two quick baskets. Once Commerce got its shots going, the momentum was hard to stop as the Tigers reeled off five- straight points to take the lead. After the two teams exchanged the lead four times, the Tigers led 11-10 after the first quarter.
Simpson and Dunbar opened the second quarter with a 3-point barrage. Simpson hit three 3-pointers and Dunbar two. The two combined to score the Tigers' opening 17 points of the quarter.
With the lead at 28-21, Morris hit back-to-back 3-pointers and added another bucket towards the end of the quarter to give Commerce a 36-25 lead at intermission.
In the third quarter, Commerce scored 19 points. Dunbar scored seven in the quarter to propel Commerce to a 55-39 lead.
The Tigers added 19 more points in the final frame to set the final score at 74-55.
COMMERCE 56 (GIRLS), BCA 40
The Tigers trailed BCA 14-11 after the first quarter. But in the final 2:06 of the first half, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good.
At halftime, the lead was 30-24. By the end of the third quarter, the lead had grown 43-31.
Bryanna Sanders led Commerce with 21 points including four 3-pointers. Carson Hobbs added 20 points.
Head coach Brad Puckett said his team played hard against Hebron Christian during last Saturday's loss. He hoped to see the same intensity vs. BCA.
"Instead, we came out and we were very, very lethargic," Puckett said. "We got down early. We almost panicked a little bit, and I don't know why ... I'll say this, first thing I told the girls, I said, 'I would rather play ugly and win than play pretty and lose.'
"We definitely played ugly tonight, but we came out with a win."
The lead changed hands three times in the first quarter with BCA ahead going into the second. With 3:57 left in the first half, Sanders hit a bucket to give Commerce a 19-18 lead, but the Knights responded with a 3-pointer to get a two-point advantage.
After Lauren Roach tied the game at 21-21, BCA again hit another 3-pointer to lead 24-21. But it would be the final bucket of the first half for the Knights as Commerce scored nine straight including Sanders' go-ahead 3-pointer at the 2:06 mark.
"I feel like we picked up our tempo close to halftime," Puckett said. "I felt like we did, and I felt like we came out in the third quarter and kind of picked up our tempo, especially early in the fourth quarter and took it away from them."
Hobbs scored five of the team's 12 third-quarter points, and the Tigers led by 12 going into the fourth quarter.
Commerce opened the final frame with seven straight points. Commerce outscored BCA 13-9 in the fourth.
"A win is a win," Puckett said. "They found a way to get it together."