CONCORD >> The known entities contributing to Garnet Valley’s intriguing start to the season are quickly gaining their reputations.
But Tuesday night, in a game that was at times scrappy and unflattering, two under-the-radar sources of offense came to the fore.
Brandon Starr scored a career-high 15 points, and the usually hot-shooting Jaguars relied on the deep ball as a decoy to propel a 64-43 win over Springfield. Starr’s 15 points didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; he’s been in double-figures five of the last six games. But the fact that it was fueled by three 3-pointers on a night where the usual suspects’ shooting touch was uncharacteristically chilly helps to confound opponents’ attempts at game-planning for the Jags (5-2, 3-2 Central).
“It’s huge because he’s more of a tweener-type guy,” guard Andrew Louden said of Starr. “He can get to the basket, he gets rebounds, but he can also step back and hit 3s. And a lot of times, there are mismatches on him because he can hit the 3.”
Starr’s, well, star turn was pertinent Tuesday when Garnet Valley’s principal deep threats misfired. Louden, Carl Tienabeso and Austin Laughlin entered averaging a combined seven 3-pointers per game. Against Springfield, they managed just four on 16 attempts, including a 2-for-11 day from the field for Tienabeso.
That created the need for Starr to step up and, with the matchups thrown his way, he delivered.
“They cover Austin, Louden and Carl, but then they leave me,” Starr said. “They maybe don’t think I can do anything. But that’s when I sneak in, and they feed me the ball, and I just do what I do today.”
Louden and Laughlin required a different kind of recalibration at halftime. Four of the team’s eight made field goals swished home in a torrid first quarter in which they outscored the visitors, 16-3. But when they went cold in the second, allowing Springfield to claw back into contention, the tactics needed to change.
So with Springfield still closing out shooters aggressively, the triple gave way to pump fakes and drives to the basket.
Combined with 15 Springfield turnovers, the majority of Louden’s 17 points came from around the hoop, including a 3-point play with 1:23 left that stretched the lead to 56-41 and was the decisive dagger that summoned the reserves from the bench and settled matters.
“We start hitting shots in the beginning, they’re going to start running and jumping out at us,” Louden said. “We’ve got coaches in the locker room telling us to pump fake, especially in the second half when we weren’t hitting anything. They’re going to keep on jumping and trying to block every shot, we’re going to pump fake and it sets us up to get to the basket and get some easy buckets.”
Laughlin also created off the dribble, finishing with 13 points even on a weak jump-shooting evening. Tienabeso finished with nine, seven in the fourth quarter.
That final surge repelled a Springfield (3-5, 1-4) squad that just seemed to hang around. They were staggered in the first quarter by the Jags’ shooting and seven turnovers, but an 8-2 run to end the first half keyed by reserve big man Great Orjih sent them into the locker room down just 12, having won the second quarter.
Five times in the second half — the last time coming with 5:08 to play after a Kyle Sullivan second-chance bucket — the Cougars cut the deficit to 11 points. But that was the hurdle they couldn’t surmount.
“I think 11 was a big number,” Sullivan said. “With about five minutes left, I saw we were down by 11, and I think at one point, we’ve just got to D up and get three stops.”
The offense certainly wasn’t there for sustained stretches. The Cougars were a paltry 2-for-18 from 3-point range. Sullivan’s 14 points represented the only double-figures total. Kyle Long got to nine, though it took 10 shot attempts, while starters Justin Collins and Kyle Ryan were shutout in the points column.
“Our shots weren’t falling tonight,” Sullivan said. “We’ve had nights where they do fall. And I think that was some of the reason why we didn’t have much success. There are better nights.”
Absent the offensive proficiency, the spark had to come from defense. Even when they did in the fourth quarter, Garnet Valley came up with five big offensive rebounds, led by the eight total rebounds by Ryan McCrossan.
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