CAMERON - It had been a long wait for coach Chad Clutter and his Cameron boys' basketball team to finally break the seal on their sparkling new gym.
It will be an even longer wait before the Dragons record their first victory at their new digs.
Cameron dug itself an early hole, committing 11 first-quarter turnovers while having difficulty filling the new nets, while East Hardy came out on fire, hitting 10 of its first 13 shots en route to a convincing 78-46 victory against the shell-shocked Dragons in the Home Town Invitational Tournament on Thursday night at Dragon Arena.
''This is a beautiful facility and we are going to win a lot of basketball games here with the freshmen, sophomores and juniors we have, but (Thursday) just wasn't our night,'' Clutter said.
The Cougars (8-8) came out smoking with Tyler Mongold scoring 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter while Shawn Skovron dropped in six of his game-high 28 as East Hardy scored the initial seven points of the game and led 24-9 after one. For the record, Cameron actually used its first timeout in the new gym before Zach Hall scored the team's first point on a free throw with 5:56 showing.
A Mark Walker triple and baskets from Ryan Clutter and Hunter Chambers to begin the second got Cameron to within eight at 24-16, but it never managed to get any closer. It was a 38-22 reading at the break and a 63-31 score after three.
''We knew they were opening their new gym, and we talked about the key being matching their intensity early on and taking it to them,'' East Hardy coach Chris Hahn said. ''And I felt like we did a great job of doing just that."
''I also believe that our athleticism, especially with our guards, surprised them a little bit and allowed us to take advantage of their youth. We knew what the keys were to playing them well, and their better shooters didn't get a lot of good looks. The other thing was the fact that our defense created some easy buckets off of turnovers.''
Hall finished with a team-high 12 for the Dragons while Cole Clutter and Walker finished with seven each. Walker's seven points leave him 51 away from cracking the 1,000-point barrier. The biggest problem for Cameron on the night was the 35 turnovers the Dragons racked up.
''We tripled our season average on turnovers,'' Clutter said. ''I have never seen this team handle the ball like that. I don't know if it was nerves in the new gym, or not getting time on the court with the snow, but whatever it was it killed us.
''But we are 9-7 and we made the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Tournament, which is something the kids are really looking forward to. Like I said, we have some good young kids, but we also have some seniors that play their hearts out as well and we are going to give some team fits down the stretch.''