Rams push tempo from start, top Spartans for win

12/19/2012
BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Start's David Cox has his shot blocked by Rogers' Tribune Dailey, Jr., during their City League game Tuesday night. Rogers, which averages 91 points per contest, won on the road.
Start's David Cox has his shot blocked by Rogers' Tribune Dailey, Jr., during their City League game Tuesday night. Rogers, which averages 91 points per contest, won on the road.

If you’re going to run with the Rogers Rams, do so at your own risk.

That’s what the Start Spartans found out Tuesday night in their City League boys basketball game against the visiting Rams, who had the pedal to the metal from the opening tip-off and never looked back in a 101-83 victory.

The three-headed backcourt monster of seniors Tony Kynard, Clemmye Owens and DeVonte Pratt, combined for all eight of the Rams’ 3-pointers and 68 of their points as Rogers (4-1, 3-0 CL) eclipsed 100 points for the third time in league play.

“We’re just so deep,” Rams coach Earl Morris said of his team’s offensive prowess. “We play 10, 11 people. Everybody’s got a starting five, but our bench is the key to our whole year.

“Our kids are playing well. We had some people who didn’t have a good game tonight, but that’s what your bench is for. You’re not always looking to score 100 points. You’re just looking to get a win. But our kids can score so quick.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Spartans vs. Rams

Start's Dexter Johnson tries to block shot of Rogers' Omari Hicks during second half.
Start's Dexter Johnson tries to block shot of Rogers' Omari Hicks during second half.

Kynard topped Rogers with 27 points, Owens had 21, and Pratt added 20 points and a team-high eight rebounds, as the Rams hit 36 of their 63 shots from the field (57 percent), and outrebounded Start 42-40.

With Pratt netting a 3-pointer from the left corner just six seconds into the game, Rogers broke out to a quick 8-0 lead. By the end of the first quarter, the Spartans (3-3, 2-1) were down 24-12, and never got closer than eight points from there.

“Most of these guys have played together since fifth grade,” Morris said of his Rams clicking so well. “They know each other so well, and they’re good together on and off the court.”

An Alejandro Williams layup three seconds before halftime sent the Rams to the break ahead 50-40, and Owens’ three-point play with 2:54 left in the third quarter sparked a game-breaking 11-4 run that put Rogers ahead 74-55 on a Kynard 15-footer with 1:16 left in that period.

“We knew they were going to come out and play hard, and we just had to match their intensity and go harder than them,” Kynard said. “We just had to see who was going to make more baskets and play better D.

“Our team unity is great. We play together during the summer, we go to the Y all the time, and we hang together. That all helps us on the court.

We’ve got to step up our D. We gave up too many points tonight. That’s unacceptable.”

At times, keyed by the offensive surges of forward Scott Hicks (29 points) and guard Dion Ivery (28 points, 10 rebounds), Start seemed to slow the Rogers scoring express. But these were only brief interruptions.

“They’re experienced, and they play well together,” Start coach Gil Guerrero said of Rogers. “They intimidate you at first, and then they just keep going. They hit some shots, and we obviously didn’t play much defense.

“If we picked them up in full-court [defense], they were just driving right past us. If the half court, they were just dumping it in and then getting any shot they wanted.”

The Spartans gradually resorted to trying to pull closer from beyond the 3-point arc, but went just 9-of-30 from that range, part of an overall 30-of-73 (41 percent) effort from the field.

Post player Michael Mitchell added 11 points and backup guard Keith Foreman nine points for Start.

Rogers got eight points from Keandre Gilmer, and seven from Tribune Dailey. Before getting in early foul trouble, Dailey delivered a poster-worthy slam dunk on a break midway in the opening quarter.

Rogers has a first-place City League showdown Friday night at Bowsher (6-1, 3-0), which is averaging 93 points per game. The Rams are scoring 91 points per contest.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.