CHESTERTON I Chesterton quickly shook off an early 8-0 deficit and easily defeated visiting Mishawaka on Saturday.
The Times No. 7 Trojans were held scoreless during the game's first four-and-a-half minutes, missing their first seven shots and watching the Cavemen climb to an 8-0 lead with 3:52 remaining in the opening quarter.
But after a timeout called by head coach Tom Peller, Chris Palombizio quickly hit a jumper to end the drought and the Trojans never looked back, earning a season-opening 44-26 victory.
Palombizio was 5-of-13 from the field and 6-of-9 from the free-throw line, and he finished with a game-high 19 points.
"We got off to a slow start, but our defense was able to force some turnovers and that turned the tide a little," Peller said.
The momentum change came quickly, as Chesterton was able to go on a 12-0 run to finish the first with a four-point edge. The Trojans' bench, particularly Niles Dilosa, provided the spark. Dilosa hit all four of his first half shots, leading the team with eight points at halftime.
"Niles provided a good lift for us," Peller said. "He made shots when other guys weren't. The bench really helped us get going."
The Trojans' defense was a key all game long, forcing 17 Mishawaka turnovers in the contest and holding the Cavemen to single-digits in all but the final quarter.
"I thought our defense played solid throughout," Peller said.
Palombizio missed his first three attempts from beyond the arc, but began to find his touch as the game went on. He converted on a trio of three-point attempts before the night was done.
"When he gets going, he is a very important part of what we do," Peller said.
A last-second layup by Mishawaka's Peyton Staples before halftime that would have cut the Trojans' lead to 10 was called off. Chesterton followed that break by holding the Cavemen without a field goal in the third.
"Overall it was a positive way to start the season," Peller said. "We need to work on our offense, but we felt good about this one."
Corey Rusboldt had a game-high eight rebounds for Chesterton, who visit Morton on Wednesday.
"This was a good way to start," Peller said, "but we want to keep getting better and improve in all facets of our game."