Miller Grove used an aggressive zone to open up a close game in the second quarter and Kyre’ Hamer scored 30 points to lead the Wolverines to an 80-69 win over Tucker.
After a competitive first quarter, the Tigers (8-5, 4-3 Region 6-AAAAA) were hanging in there down just 28-22 with 4:19 left in the half when the four-time defending state champs made their move.
Pushing the speed of the game with a tightly guarded zone that bordered on a trapping defense on the perimeter while locking down the frontcourt, Miller Grove took Tucker out of its game, igniting the Wolverines (17-3, 10-0) on a 17-3 run that carried over into the second half.
“It really was just a change of pace just to try some different things,” Miller Grove coach Sharman White said. “We had gameplanned it, so we knew we wanted to do it. We just wanted to mix it up and see what kind of reaction we would get out of them with it. It helped us.”
That, it did, becoming the impetus for a run that stretched the lead to 20 at 45-25, and the Tigers would never get it back below 9 again. The defensive pressure also helped them force 21 turnovers, 11 in the first half.
The 80 points was the second-highest point total of the season for a Miller Grove team that’s seemed more comfortable playing games in the 60s than the 80s this season. But that doesn’t mean the scoring side of the ball was the key in this one.
“Our offense comes from our defense,” Hamer said. “If we play terrible defense, our offense is going to be awful, we’re going to have low-scoring quarters. I can say defense, that’s us.”
The offense wasn’t bad either, especially from Hamer, who made four 3-pointers in the first half, including three in a 3-minute stretch of the second quarter to keep Tucker at arm’s length.
In the second half, he did most of his damage inside the arc, driving to the basket and helping the Wolverines soften up a Tucker defense that features 6-foot-10 Jabari Craig and long-armed, 6-7 Davonte Fitzgerald.
“(Getting inside) was really big, because they’re so big on the inside,” White said. “For us to get some buckets on the inside, it kind of kept it a little honest on the outside so they couldn’t just crowd our perimeter guys and force them to take some bad shots, force them to do things outside of the plan of what we wanted to do.”
Fitzgerald led Tucker with 27 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Teammate Jon Dunmyer had 21. Keith Pinckney had 12 for Miller Grove.