McMECHEN - Leading just 29-25 at halftime, the debuting Bishop Donahue boys' basketball team turned up the heat with a kamikaze-style full-court press and blew away Marshall County rival Cameron on Friday night at the Father Raymond Jablinske Memorial Gymnasium.
Sparked from both ends of the court by the tenacious play of their fiery 5-foot-8 senior point guard Garrett Yurisko, the Bishops' torrid 31-13 explosion in the third quarter paved the way for a convincing 78-52 victory.
''For some reason in the first half we failed to get in our press when we scored and yes, we did talk about it in the locker room,'' veteran Bishop Donahue coach Tom Wise said. ''We really stressed getting in the press after every score and not allowing them to walk it up and take time off the clock.''
Bishop Donahue’s Garrett Yurisko (20) tries to work his way past Cameron’s Jake Walker (21) during action of their game Friday night in McMechen.
Although the scorebook had Yurisko with only five points, his in-your-face attitude on the press and role as the maestro of the Donahue transition game helped break the game open.
So did the 19 points supplied by D.T. Meeker, whose slashing moves to the basket were virtually unstoppable. Meeker missed just three of 12 attempts from the field, with most of his baskets coming in transition or when he used his quick first step to take the ball to the rim.
But it was the defense that make life easy for the green and gold after a slow start. During at least a half-dozen occasions, the Dragons were unable to even get the ball past midcourt while the Bishops were opening the third quarter with a 15-2 surge.
''He (Yurisko) sees the floor well and attacks constantly,'' Wise noted.
''If you are open, he will get you the basketball.''
Cameron Coach Chad Clutter explained that while his team didn't see anything different in the second half from the first two quarters by the Donahue defense, he thought the Bishops' edge in depth was too much for the Dragons to overcome.
''When they didn't come out until (almost) the buzzer before the third quarter, we figured they were getting chewed out,'' Clutter said. ''They just turned it up a notch and went from a 10 to an 11 on their pressure.
''We're not very deep and fatigue got to us. They started running (substituting) five and five at us and we don't have the luxury of those numbers at this point in time.''
The Dragons, thumped Thursday night in their season opener, came out hopeful of a better showing against the Bishops and they looked good for a while. Mark Walker's triple put the visitors in front 3-0 and they went on to hold a 7-2 advantage before the Bishops finally started forcing some mistakes.
Senior Chad Riedel began a 13-2 Bishops rally with a triple from the corner and Meeker went in ahead of the field after a steal to knot the score at 9-9 a minute later.
The layup began a six-point spurt by Meeker, who scored on a nice drive to the basket and then put back a teammate's missed shot. Yuriskio's pretty dish to Cody Ballard extended the lead to 15-9.
It was a one-point game at 16-15 entering the second quarter with Cameron then fighting back to regain the lead at 21-18 with six quick points. Walker's triple from in front of the Donahue bench, Alex Jones' kiss off the glass and Zack Hall's free throw sparked the Dragons surge.
The Bishops' Bryce Jones rained one in for a 3-pointer to regain the lead at 25-23 and they finished off the half in front 29-25.
Wylie Koontz's basket and Yurisko's feed to Riedel opened the second half for Donahue. After Hall's bucket cut the deficit to 33-27, the Bishops scored the next 11 points, Meeker picking up three straight buckets for the second time in the game and then making a perfect pass inside to Andrew Beveridge for the conventional three-point play.
The lead was 60-37 at the close of the quarter and Wise utilized his bench throughout the final eight minutes.
Joining Meeker in double digits was Riedel with 13 points. Pacing Cameron's scoring was Ryan Hughes with 14 points, followed by Hall and Jones with 13 each.
Neither team shot the ball very well from the floor and Wise was disappointed with his team's 32 of 72 shooting total.
''Realistically from what we had seen in practice this was a poor-shooting night. Once we start making those shots, I think we will have a pretty good inside-outside game,'' he added.