MUNSTER — The Munster boys basketball team came out in a zone press to start its first game of the season, and its staunch defense helped spark a 72-42 victory.
The Times No. 2 Mustangs forced No. 3 Bishop Noll (0-1) into several turnovers in the first quarter and reeled off 13 straight points. During that stretch, senior guard Tyler Zabrecky scored five points, including a 3-pointer from the right corner.
"It was a great start," Munster coach Mike Hackett said. "We were very active. Playing some defense, getting a lot of deflections and scoring the ball."
The most exciting play of Munster's early run came on the team's first missed shot of the game.
With just under four minutes left in the opening quarter, junior guard Josh Davis drove to the basket and shot a right-handed layup that careened high off the backboard. But just as the ball began to descend toward the hardwood, senior center Dorian Benford jumped over everyone in the paint and slammed in a put-back dunk.
"Oh, yeah he can do that," Hackett said. "I don't know if we've ever here at Munster had a kid that can play above the rim the way he can. And you're going to see that a lot. We see it on a daily basis in practice."
The home crowd erupted when Benford flushed in his first basket of the game, but Bishop Noll responded with a 9-0 run of its own to close out the first quarter.
Senior guard Brandon Scott scored seven straight points to help the Warriors get back in the game, but they were never able to tie or take the lead. He ended the game with 20 points — including four 3-pointers — and was the only player on Bishop Noll to score in double-figures.
Munster senior guard Jevon Morris led all scorers with 22 points — totaling 11 points in each half — and knocked down three of his six 3-point attempts. He also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, dished an assist and jumped in the passing lanes to come up with a few steals.
"As a leader, I feel like I'm supposed to be doing all of that stuff," Morris said. "We've got good chemistry. We've been together for a very long time so my teammates trust me."
But despite the cohesiveness Morris shares with Zabrecky and other seniors, he believes new additions to the team — like Benford — will make Munster (1-0) more formidable than it was last season when it lost on a 3-point buzzer-beater to Lake Central in the sectional semifinals.
Benford transferred from Marshall in Chicago, and is in his first and only season with the Mustangs. Hackett said he wasn't sure if Benford would be able to play this season, but according to him his team's tallest player was just granted eligibility by the IHSAA last weekend.
The 6-foot-9 center finished with five points, eight rebounds and four fouls, but Hackett and Morris are confident he has the potential to be dominant on both ends of the court as the season wears on.
After the game, Benford walked out of the locker room and gave Morris a pat on the back. He congratulated his new point guard on his solid performance, but that didn't stop Morris from taking a playful shot at his big man.
"Dorian's put-back dunk looked like a goaltend," Morris said with a smirk. "But I'll give it to him."
James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.
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