WESTVILLE | It was Silent Night Friday at Westville, but by the time the Blackhawks reached double figures, the home crowd's cue to cheer, there really wasn't much to yell about.
"We knew it was coming," said Cody Nelson, who sparked an early 14-1 surge that put Kouts in control. "We just buckled down, fought through it, got good looks and good conversions. We practiced our big man moves, our shooting, everything we needed to do to prepare for the game, and it wound up working."
Nelson scored eight of his game-high 24 points in the first-quarter run and the Times No. 9 Mustangs raced to a 79-59 Porter County Conference victory.
"I have to give all the credit to the kids," Kouts coach Matt Crawford said. "They were ready to roll for this one. They felt the vibe that this was going to be a big game. We talk about being poised, showing passion and playing with purpose, and we did all three. Both teams wanted to run. It was a fun game to be a part of."
Kouts (6-0, 3-0) led by as many as 20 in the first half, hitting five of six 3s and punishing the Blackhawks (2-2, 2-1) on the boards 18-4.
"Our defense was definitely a presence," Nelson said. "Our 2-3 trap frustrated them. We got some easy steals and converted most of them."
Westville made a modest run to edge within 12 early in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as it would get.
"We didn't get out on the guys who shoot the ball," Blackhawks coach Rob Walker said. "It's a tough matchup for us. When they have the outside shooting, we can't pay as much attention to (Matt) Stewart and the other big guy (Dylan Bruce). We have nobody the size of (them)."
The 6-foot-8 Stewart gobbled up 16 rebounds, blocked four shots and influenced several others. Bruce also nabbed eight caroms and came a hoop short of giving Kouts five double-figure scorers.
"You can't teach 6-8," Crawford said.
Jake Bekelya notched 19 points, most of them coming on drives to the rim, while Cole Van Dyke kicked in a career-high with 15, including three treys.
"I turned a couple shots away in practice and the coaches told me to shoot the ball," Van Dyke said. "I was kind of off for a couple games, but they started falling. My rhythm's gotten better. I really got into the flow of things."
Westville, which played without starter Alex Henn (ankle), also had four scorers crack double digits. Collin Walker managed 17 points despite foul trouble that limited his minutes and eventually chased him with 5:25 left. He was 4 for 4 from the arc. Shawn Gerron chipped in 14 points, Austin Swistek 11 and Chris Wilkins 11.
"Kouts is the best Class A team on our schedule," Walker said. "It's not the end of the world. We're still in the (PCC) race."