By Melissa Meador
ABERDEEN – Aberdeen coach Cornelius Gilleylen is so confident of his team’s defense that he felt comfortable changing it midgame.
The adjustment worked well enough to hand the Bulldogs, the Journal’s No. 6-ranked team, a dominant second half on their way to an 80-47 win over No. 10 Calhoun City.
“We slowed it down from an up-tempo running game to a zone defense, covered their shooters and matched up the zone,” Gilleylen said. “I actually told them that we were going to try this, and they may not even score. That’s how much confidence we have in our man-to-man and zone defense.”
Aberdeen (18-7) out-scored the visiting Wildcats 42-20 in the second half and opened the third quarter on a 15-2 run to pull away in what was a close ballgame in the first half.
Marcus Carouthers, who led all scorers with 18 points, opened the game with a bang, taking the ball down for a slam dunk on Aberdeen’s first possession. Nick Simms’ two baskets to close the first gave the Bulldogs an 17-14 lead.
In the second, Chakel Gates’ three-point play cut a double-digit lead back down to nine, but that would be as close as the Wildcats would get after Aberdeen’s quick start to the third. Sammie Burroughs scored six of the Bulldogs’ 15 points to start the quarter. Tylan McMillian’s dunk in the fourth widened the gap to nearly 20 points.
Simms scored 17 points for Aberdeen. Gates had 16 for Calhoun City.
Gilleylen said he’s urging his team to keep its focus after beating Starkville, the state’s top-ranked team, on Thursday.
“I don’t think we can play any better than we are now. It’s good to be clicking all cylinders this close to playoff time,” Gilleylen said.