RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. — The California Pintos were in control from the start in their 84-40 win over the Russellville Indians on Jan. 7. The Pintos are now 4-5 this season, while the Indians drop to 2-7 on the year.
California jumped out to a big lead early as the team outscored Russellville 42-11 in the first quarter. The Pintos made seven three-pointers in the game, five of which were in the first quarter.
Pintos head coach Ron Lebel said he thinks the big quarter was huge for the Pintos' confidence.
"We have struggled all year putting two, to three, to four shots together to feel like we are getting on a run," Lebel said. "It is good for the guys. They created some turnovers and they pushed the ball down the floor well and they hit some shots. It is good to see them hit some shots back-to-back-to-back. That has been a struggle all year long. We will hit a shot and then not score for four possessions. It was good to see us relaxed and hit some shots."
In the second quarter, the Pintos led 55-21 with less than four minutes to go before halftime. With less than two minutes to go, the Pintos led 57-21. California only gave up one point in the last couple of minutes as the Pintos outscored the Indians 9-1 to enter halftime up 66-22. The final basket for the Pintos in the half was a three-pointer by Trevor Myers, with around 30 seconds to go before halftime.
In the third quarter, Russellville found a little bit more success on offense as the Indians started the quarter on a 8-2 run to make it a 68-30 game with less than five minutes in the quarter. The Pintos made it a 70-30 game after a basket by Braeden Birdsong with around 4:30 on the clock. With less than two minutes to go, a basket by Garrett Burger made it a 74-32 lead for the Pintos. Russellville scored one last time to make it a 74-34 game with around 10 seconds left, but a buzzer beater shot by Calen Kruger made it a 76-34 game at the end of the quarter.
In the second half, Lebel said the team focused on running their offense.
"We wanted to work on executing some of our offense. There was a few times where our offense did not look what we were kind of hoping it would look like," Lebel said. "In the second half, we were trying to execute some of our set stuff and some of our motion stuff. It looked alright at times and we struggled at times, but basically in the second half, we felt like we had the game under control and we just wanted to work on a couple things and (the team) did a pretty good job of doing that."
California started the fourth quarter with a 5-3 run to make it an 81-37 game, but a three-pointer by the Indians on their next possession made it 81-40 with 4:15 left. California made it an 84-40 game with less than two minutes to go in the game.
After the first quarter, the Indians played California closer.
Indians head coach Ben Pallardy said his team took care of the ball better after the first quarter.
"California also backed off their pressure, their press was giving us a lot of problems," Pallardy said. "I thought, in the second half, we played with better energy, we played better defense, and I thought we played a lot better (overall) in the second half."
For California, Trevor Myers led the team with 28 points — all of his points came in the first half. Trevor Porter and Braeden Birdsong followed, both contributing 10 points. The Pintos went 5-10 from the free throw line.
For Russellville, Jesse Daniel led the team with nine points and Bryce Mehroff scored eight points. Russellville made six three-pointers in the game and shot 6-11 from the free throw line.
The Indians had an advantage when it came to the number of fouls in the game. Russellville only committed six fouls in the game while California committed 10. Pallardy said the Indians have been working on reducing their amount of fouls.
"We have had some games where we fouled quite a bit. That has been a point of emphasis, but our position is getting a little bit better," Pallardy said.
The Indians' next game will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at home versus Stover.
The Pintos' next game will also be Thursday in their second round game of the California tournament, but their opponent will depend on how the first round goes. If California won their first round game on Jan. 14 versus St. Elizabeth, the Pintos will play the winner of the Centralia/Moberly game at 7:30 p.m. But if the Pintos lost to St. Elizabeth, the Pintos will play the loser of the Centralia/Moberly game at 9 p.m.