STEUBENVILLE - Jay Morris was spot on when he said Steubenville imposed its will on his debuting Buckeye Local basketball squad inside the Crimson Center on Thursday.
Forcing 20 first-half Panthers turnovers (14 came via steals) with their trapping defensive pressure, the hosts cruised to a 62-43 victory.
"We always say whichever team imposes its will on the other usually wins," Morris noted. "(Thursday), Big Red imposed its will on us.
"We talked about the fact that when these kids were sophomores (Buckeye Local starts four seniors and has eight on the roster) and we went 1-20, we didn't have that many turnovers in a half. We didn't expect that from our seniors."
Things actually looked pretty good for Buckeye Local early. Hoops by Caleb Agnew and Brennan Czuchran gave the Panthers a quick 4-0 lead. The walls, unfortunately, came tumbling down from there.
John Linn swished a triple then added a deuce to ignite an 11-0 Big Red run. Brandon Herring-Hill, Chris Smith and Tajuan Lawson accounted for the other six points. Mike Haney's crew, thanks to a Mylik Young bucket, was up 16-7 after the opening eight minutes.
The Panthers were guilty of nine ball-handling miscues during the opening stanza.
To its credit, Buckeye Local opened the second frame strong, scoring six straight. Big Red's defense went back to work, however, forcing 11 more turnovers. The result - Haney's cagers built a 31-15 halftime lead. Young had a huge quarter, scoring eight of his team-high 13 points.
Big Red held a 43-26 advantage after three then outscored the Panthers 19-17 during the final stanza. The visitors ended with 30 turnovers while Big Red was credited with 20 steals, Linn getting six.
In addition to his 13 points, Young, a 6-3 jumping jack senior, also led his team in rebounding with nine.
Periogn West added 12, eight coming in the fourth quarter. Lawson, who dished out five assists, had nine for Big Red, which hit 25 of 59 field goal attempts. The winners, however, were just eight of 17 from the charity stripe.
"We practice it," Haney noted. "We obviously have to concentrate when we practice it. We have to get better. In a close game, that can come back to bite you."
Czuchran led the Panthers in scoring with 15. Kyle Michalo added 10. As a team, Buckeye Local was 16 for 52 from the floor.
"The only good thing is we get to play," Morris said. "So we don't have to think about it too long."