Behind a balanced-scoring attack and a stingy defensive effort, the Western Indians won their third game in a row over the visiting Portsmouth Clay Panthers by a score of 56-37 in Latham on Friday night.

“I thought offensively we shot the ball well. We’ve been moving the ball better as a team,” said Indians head coach Doug Williams. “With the balls popping and moving around, I knew they were going to slow the game down. We play tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. (Saturday), and we were willing to allow that slow game to happen and try to outscore them in the half court set. We shot the ball well, and it worked out for us.”

Clay jumped out 5-2 over the Indians with 5:19 to play in the first. However, that was the only lead the Panthers saw as Kolten Miller connected on a triple to tie the game at 5-5, before Colton Montgomery converted on a steal and a bucket to give the Indians a 7-5 lead midway through the first quarter.

The Panthers and Indians traded punches throughout the rest of the quarter, but Reed Brewster gave the Indians a little bit of separation, as he connected on a trey as time expired in the first giving Western a 16-12 lead.

Miller then scored early in the second quarter, giving Western a 21-14 lead, before the Indians went up 28-18 with 3:08 left to go in the half.

With 1:38 left in the half, Sean Kerns hit the seventh Indian triple of the half, giving them a 31-20 lead. The Indians would lead 31-21 at the break as they would shoot 12-of-20 from the field including seven threes in the first 16 minutes of play.

“That makes us hard to guard,” said Williams of the balanced shooting. “(Kolten) Miller is our leading scorer on the season, and he’s probably our best offensive player. They started trying to face guard him during the game, and when they face guarded him in our offense, somebody else is open. We’ve done a good job this year with Covid and now snow days and lack of practice. I was really proud of the way we shared the ball.”

With 4:23 left in the third, Montgomery hit a triple off an assist from Brewster, giving the Indians their largest lead of the game 39-21. Western then built that lead to 45-27 at the end of the third. Western slowly continued to put the game away in the fourth as they led 51-33 at the 4:33 mark and went on to win 56-37.

“We were definitely stubborn and went into this game working on our man-to-man defense by sitting down to guard and making it tough on them to score,” said Williams.

The Indians were 21-of-38 shooting the ball, connecting on 11 triples and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. Miller paced the Indians with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Noah Whitt scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting along with four rebounds. Reed Brewster connected on three triples for nine points, while Colton Montgomery and Sean Kerns each hit two triples, while scoring eight points. Riley Beekman scored three points, while Gavin Myers rounded out the Indians scoring with two points. Next on tap for the Indians is a sectional semifinal contest against Eastern Meigs on Wednesday, which will be played at Western.

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