member of the Scioto Valley Conference, Saturday for a
non-conference tilt on the eve of the sectional tournament draw. With
both teams hoping to improve their tournament resume, it was Mifflin’s
defensive pressure and an outstanding
performance from the senior duo of Adrian Arter and Keshon
Pullins that paved the way for the Punchers 85-70 victory.
PIKETON – Columbus City League’s Mifflin High School traveled down to Piketon, a member of the Scioto Valley Conference, Saturday night for a non-conference battle on the eve of the sectional tournament draw. With both teams hoping to improve their tournament resume, it was Mifflin’s defensive pressure that caused 32 turnovers as well as an outstanding performance from its senior backcourt duo Adrian Arter and Keshon Pullins that paved the way for the 85-70 victory.
Piketon was able to keep pace with Mifflin in the opening quarter – an eight minute span that saw four ties and five lead changes – as the Redstreaks trailed the Punchers by only three at 21-18 at the end of the first period.
Mifflin then turned up its pressure to start the second quarter causing four turnovers in the first three minutes, and the trio of Piketon mistakes led to seven Mifflin points to help stretch its lead to 28-19.
Mifflin (8-8) continued to control the first half; however, when Piketon’s Keenan Brush knocked down two free throws to trim the lead back to single digits with just over a few minutes to play, it appeared that the Redstreaks would weather the storm heading to the locker room.
Unfortunately for the Redstreaks, Arter connected on a three-pointer and then moments later scored in transition to stretch the Mifflin halftime advantage back to double-digits at 44-30.
“We knew we could not run up and down with them all night,” said Piketon head coach Jeff Lisath. “We tried to slow the tempo, but their pressure is so relentless it makes it tough to get into any half court sets. At halftime, we talked about attacking their pressure and looking to score a little more. We did a nice job in the early part of the third quarter, but turnovers kept us from getting any closer.”
The early third quarter that the Piketon coach was referring to was a 13-3 Piketon run in the first four minutes of the second half. Cody Smith scored seven of his 17 during that stretch, and Piketon also got buckets from Jordan Brabson – who scored a team-high 23 on the night – Evan Legg and Coty Breitenbach. The run closed the Streaks to within four at 47-43 forcing Mifflin head coach Gene Caslin to call a timeout.
The Punchers responded to their coach’s message as Mifflin started on a 16-4 run to stretch the lead back to 14 at 63-49 and Piketon never really threatened again.
The Punchers maintained their lead on the strength of some outstanding guard play. Arter scored a game-high 26 points on four triples and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line and Keshon Pullins – who was coming in fresh off his 41 point performance from Friday night – scored 17 points. Tyree Burrell and Deshawn Martin each scored 10 points while Nathan Budd added nine to complete the balanced Mifflin offense.
The loss drops Piketon to 10-6 overall. Coach Lisath heads to the sectional draw on Sunday looking for something in the three through five seed, but regardless of where Piketon is positioned on the bracket, the experience his team gained from facing the Mifflin pressure is something he thinks will payoff in the long run.
“That is why we scheduled it,” said Lisath when asked about the experience his young guards gained from facing the relentless pressure from the Punchers. “I think it will definitely help us. We have faced some solid pressure, but nothing like what they threw at us tonight.
“Mifflin has great size and great athleticism,” the Piketon coach continued. “You have to do things correctly or they will make you pay. At times we did some things well, but there were too many times we just got careless with our passes.”