NEW BRITAIN - A disastrous third quarter undid the effort of a resilient first half for Innovation boys basketball against Capital Prep on Tuesday night, turning a 12-point deficit into a 38-point deficit in eight minutes.
The Ravens faced a size disadvantage that they handled well early, but fell victim to the Trailblazers’ full-court press and repeatedly gave up transition baskets off of turnovers. Innovation was outscored 28-2 in the third quarter and almost played the entire period before scoring as Capital Prep started capitalizing on every mistake the Ravens made.
“We couldn’t handle their press,” Innovation head coach Matt Lance said. “They got a lot of easy looks off our turnovers and they just kept pressing and [forcing] turnovers and they kept scoring.”
The Trailblazers started the third quarter on a 19-0 run before a free throw from Tyvonn Thompson ended the drought. A free throw from Amir Bolden was the only other scoring the Ravens did in the quarter while five Capital Prep players combined for 28 points.
Already struggling against the press in the first half, Innovation had no effective methods of getting the ball into the frontcourt. The press forced the Ravens to play faster than they wanted to and give the ball away before their possessions got started.
“I think we were way too reactionary against the press,” Lance said. “We caught the ball and didn’t necessarily know where our options were. We went right into the trap where it was and we didn’t look for an outlet in the middle. We didn’t look for guys running their cuts. It was way too reactionary and their size does cause a lot of issues. When you have that type of length at the top of the press it causes issues.”
Senior Elijah Craig scored all 10 of his points in the third quarter and was one of four players on his team to finish with at least 10 points for the game. Senior Mehki Tyson-Slaughter posted14 points in the contest and 10 after halftime, highlighted by a forceful dunk that put his leaping abilities on display.
The game started off slowly with the score tied 2-2 after three minutes as the Trailblazers adjusted to playing their first game since Dec. 21. Capital Prep began building its lead later in the first quarter when senior Quincy Ferguson hit his first three-pointer of the game to give the Trailblazers an 8-4 advantage.
Keyshawn Mitchell led all scorers with 20 points, half of which he scored in the first quarter as Innovation struggled to combat his height inside.
Capital Prep added to its lead in the second quarter and got more players involved Quincy Ferguson and Tyson-Slaughter added six and five points, respectively. Thompson hit nine of Innovation’s 13 free throws including five of them in the second quarter as he got to the free throw line consistently to keep Innovation’s offense alive.
“I thought we got, from the defensive side of the ball, a consistent effort from all five guys on the floor [in the first half],” Lance said. “[Capital Prep] had the size advantage, they were bigger, but I thought for the entire first 16 minutes we battled every single [possession].”
The Ravens will return to the court Friday for a 7 p.m. road game against Achievement First.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org