Indians stay on track in NCC

The biggest obstacle for a second straight unbeaten North Central Conference season for the Anderson boys basketball team may still be several weeks away, but it was important to coach Donnie Bowling the Indians not overlook potential speed bumps they would encounter along the way.

Scoring the first 15 points of a game should do the trick.

Jaylen Murphy scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the first half as Anderson rolled to a 51-12 halftime advantage and defeated NCC rival McCutcheon 78-34, in a game where the only thing that could slow down the Anderson offense was the running clock mercy rule, which kicked in for the entire second half.

The Indians improved to 13-3 overall (5-0 in NCC) with their ninth straight win this season and 14th consecutive conference win since a home loss to the Mavericks in February 2021.

McCutcheon dropped to 5-11 (0-6) and has now lost seven of its last eight games.

An amped-up defensive effort and an open-court offense from the Indians put this one on ice early.

“I think we stayed focused, even after we got ahead,” Bowling said. “I’m proud of them, and we really wanted to get it inside to Murphy.”

It was the advantage of having the 6-foot-7 Murphy in the post that made the difference against a McCutcheon team with no players listed taller than 6-3.

The senior scored the first two baskets of the game and scored six early on as Anderson had 15 points on the board before the Mavericks could score their first. He then scored the final six points of the quarter as the Indians were up 21-4 after the first eight minutes.

The combination of his team’s size advantage as well as the zone preference of the McCutcheon defense led to Bowling wanting the offense to focus on feeding the ball to Murphy inside, where he was 6-of-7 on field goals in the first half.

“That’s what I saw on tape, so I thought Murphy could have a big game,” Bowling said. “I want Ahmere (Carson) to score a lot. I want everybody to score a lot. But if we get it inside, then it’s easy for everybody.”

After Landon Waeltz drilled a 3-point basket to open the second quarter for McCutcheon, the Indians resumed their onslaught.

Carson scored on two drives and a 3-point basket and Louis Jackson added a 3-pointer off the bench as Anderson scored the next 13 points. By the time Ja’Quan Ingram hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds of the half, the Indians were up 51-12.

In the first half, Anderson committed just two turnovers while forcing 13 McCutcheon miscues and keeping Mavericks leading scorer Eli Swank off the scoreboard.

“That 1-3-1, there’s like four different defenses inside that,” Bowling said. “We have the ‘spider’ where we trap all over the place and go hectic, the ‘fist high’ where we trap high and force you to go low, then you have ‘fist low’ where we trap low. That really hurt them. We gave them the corner, and we trapped it there. That really threw them off.”

With a 35-point lead in the second half, the running clock was in effect after halftime.

The one McCutcheon bright spot came at the outset of the third quarter as Swank made three straight 3-point baskets during a 12-2 Mavericks run to cut the deficit to 53-24.

But the Indians answered with an 18-2 run of their own with sophomore Damien King scoring seven straight points — including one of four Anderson dunks — during the burst.

Ingram scored 18 points for Anderson and Carson added 16 points and handed out nine assists — many to Murphy — for Anderson and King finished with nine points.

Swank led the Mavericks with 12 points.

Anderson will be right back in action at home Saturday night when Lawrence Central visits Phil Buck Court for a non-conference game.

The Anderson junior varsity team rolled to a 68-53 win over the Mavericks. Collin Lewis led the Indians attack with 21 points while Aaron Morgan added 20 points.