By JON REITER
Host Providence landed the knockout blow early, embarking on a 14-0 run to open their contest against Austin last night en route to a 61-37 win over the Eagles on Friday.
“Our five starters played a fantastic game,” Pioneers coach Lou Lefevre said. “Right off the bat, as long as they were in they were alert defensively, they knew where the shooters were, they were communicating well — they were really frustrating them (Austin). Our five senior starters — they did a terrific job.”
Lefevre was less effusive about his reserves.
“While our starters did well, it’s time for our juniors and other reserves to step up. There was a dropoff when they were in,” he said.
Providence’s frontline of Dalton Duley, Ryan Pickerell and George Knott punished Austin (1-1), scoring 53 of Providence’s 61 points. Knott, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, led the Pioneers with a double-double — 22 points and 10 rebounds. Pickerell added 19 points and 8 rebounds and Duley added 12 points.
The trio combined for all 14 points during Providence’s opening run, which came during the first 4 minutes and 32 seconds of the contest. Knott and Pickerell opened up the game with close inside buckets, and it was 6-0 after another Pickerell basket, which came off an acrobatic diving save by Knott, who was attempting to corral a long offensive rebound.
Duley nailed back-to-back 3-pointers and another Pickerell bucket made it 14-0 with 3:28 remaining in the first quarter. After the Pickerell basket, Austin coach Joe Sibbitt called his third timeout of the run.
While his troika of inside players notched the gaudy stats, Lefevre was just as pleased with his starting backcourt of Nano Grantz and Cory Cahalan. Grantz only had two points and Cahalan didn’t score, but the duo were the chief ballhandlers and setup artists for the inside players and Providence only turned the ball over 6 times on the night.
“They really played a mature game,” Lefevre said. “They ran the team well, they were good on defense, and they were key to us playing well for most of the game.”
Providence (2-0) hosts Madison tonight at the Robert L. Larkin Center. In a scheduling quirk, after Saturday the Pioneers will have played their first three games at home before hitting the road for their next three against Scottsburg, Charlestown and Floyd Central.
“I don’t know that it matters,” Lefevre said. “If you’re a good team, you want to play no matter where the game is. After [Saturday], we’ll have a few road games and we’ll see if that makes a difference to us or not.”
PROVIDENCE 61, AUSTIN 37
Austin 3 10 12 12—37
Providence 16 14 17 14—61
Austin (1-1): Chris Mayfield 9, Ben Baker 2, Markus Fleenor 5, Cody Lesnet 2, Jeremiah White 8, Josh Turner 4, Hunter Spencer 3, Josh Vires 3.
Providence (2-0): Nano Grantz 2, Ryan Pickerell 19, Dalton Duley 12, George Knott 22, Ben Shahroudi 2, Grant Goad 4.
Rebounds: Austin 16 (White 7); Providence 24 (Knott 10).
3-point goals: Austin 2 (Mayfield); Providence 2 (Duley 2).
Turnovers: Austin 13, Providence 6.
Free throws: Austin 13-21, Providence 15-22.