CHESTERTON — Go, go, go! Look up, look up, look up!
With each defensive rebound off a Chesterton miss, E.C. Central coach Pete Trgovich exhorted his Cardinals to push the basketball Tuesday.
"Our offense is the fast break," Trgovich said. "We're not a big team, so one of the reasons we do it is we want opponents to be worried about it. If we help on defense and rebound, they're not going to crash the offensive boards. They know if they don't get it, we're off to the races."
Times No. 6 E.C. Central (3-1) ran the No. 5 Trojans (4-2) ragged with their transition game, taking control with a 19-0 first-half surge and cruising to an impressive 76-59 victory.
"Coach says never walk the ball up the court," E.C. Central's Damien Jefferson said. "That's our style of play. We like to get rebounds and we go, go, go. We're an up-tempo team. That's the way I love to play."
Jefferson poured in 27 points and teammate Jermaine Couisnard added 25 points and 11 rebounds in a dominant one-two display.
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"We worked really hard in the off-season," Jefferson said. "When we play good, the team feeds off our intensity."
Chesterton shot just 36 percent, including 6 of 23 from the arc, and E.C. turned several of the long caroms into layups on the other end.
"Our transition defense was horrible," Trojans coach Tom Peller said. "We have to get back and get set. We didn't do it the whole game. I'm responsible for that. We had a little too much individual stuff. E.C. played with a lot of purpose. They played harder. We didn't make shots. We kept taking quick shots and that just fed into what they were doing. We have to be more patient. It was a good lesson for us."
Rhyss Lewis tossed in 28 with Antwan Beeks adding a dozen for Chesterton. The Trojans drew within eight at halftime, but eight quick Cardinals points to start the third, aided by three steals on four possessions, broke the game back open.
"Even when they came back on us, we didn't fall apart at that point, which is a positive for us," Trgovich said. "We needed something like this. Chesterton's a good team. They beat Bowman. It's a confidence builder. Every game, we've played a little better. Roosevelt, Bowman, Munster and now here. It's a new system and the kids have bought in pretty fast. They're going to get better at it. That's the way basketball is."