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If there was any speculation that perennial basketball power St. John’s Jesuit might have fallen off based on its 0-2 start to the 2013-14 season, the Titans’ past two games suggest otherwise.
St. John’s won its Three Rivers Athletic Conference opener last Friday against Lima Senior, and Tuesday night moved to 2-0 in the TRAC with a lopsided 83-40 victory over visiting Whitmer.
PHOTO GALLERY: St. John's tops Whitmer 83-40
The Titans’ guard trio of senior Anthony Glover, junior Kaleb Vaughn, and sophomore Gabe Kynard simply shot the Panthers out of the dome on Airport Highway, combining for 10 3-pointers, and 56 of St. John’s 83 points.
Glover sparked the rout with 14 of his game-high 24 points in the opening quarter. Kynard mixed three 3-pointers into his 17-point effort, and Vaughn got all 15 of his points on five 3-pointers.
“We played two tough teams at the beginning of the season and we took two tough losses,” Glover said. “We felt we could play better than that, so we wanted to show everybody we could come out and get a W. We knew we were better than those first two games, so we talked about it, and got our chemistry going in practice. We feel we’re going to continue to grow from that, and continue to get better.”
The red-hot Titans shot 57 percent (29 of 51) from the field, including 59 percent (10 of 17) from beyond the arc, and hit 15 of their 20 free throws (75 percent).
It was far from an arc-fest however, as St. John’s also outrebounded the Panthers 40-20, and forced 19 Whitmer turnovers while committing 11.
With Glover scoring 10 points in the first three minutes and 32 seconds, St. John’s surged to a 12-4 lead, and pushed it to 25-9 after one quarter.
Whitmer — which saw the Titans use a game-breaking 28-6 run in an eight-minute span from midway in the first to midway in the second quarter — was down 35-10 after Kynard capped that stretch on a transition layup 5:07 before halftime.
The Panthers never found an answer. They trailed 48-19 at halftime, and 65-25 after three quarters before St. John’s began to empty its bench.
“It was kind of choose your poison,” first-year Whitmer head coach Ryan Brown said. “Early on, they drove right down the lane on us for layups. We decided to go zone, and were going to give up some outside shots — and they made them all.
“Right now they’re better than us. We’ve got to come to practice every day and work to get better.”
Whitmer was led in scoring by sub Casino Stacker, who had seven points, and Chris Parker and Darrius Harvey added six points apiece for the Panthers (1-2, 1-1), who were 16 of 49 (33 percent) from the field, including 4 of 17 (24 percent) on 3-pointers.
This win, and St. John’s 83-56 TRAC victory at home last Friday against Lima Senior, came after a slight adjustment to the starting lineup.
Instead of the previous three-forward, two-guard combination, Heintschel started the 6-foot-3 Vaughn at guard in place of 6-4 junior Myles Copeland at forward, and kept 6-9 senior Tyler Ernsthausen primarily on the inside instead of having him playing an inside-out game.
“We made a lineup change,” Heintschel said. “It was no reflection on Myles Copeland, but our chemistry just wasn’t good on the floor with three forwards out there. [The move] just made for better chemistry.
“We shot well tonight, and we’re shooting better. The guys are getting used to their roles. We’re asking the kids to do a whole lot more than they did last year.”
Copeland contributed eight points and three rebounds off the bench, and Ernsthausen added six points and five boards. The fifth starter remained sturdy 6-4 senior forward Trevor Walsh (two points, five rebounds). St. John’s had opened with a 59-49 loss at Shaker Heights, and fell 65-62 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at Bowsher.