SPORTS >> Abundant Life zones in on success
By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor
Carlisle tried a zone but Abundant Life was in the zone Friday night.
Abundant Life overcame Carlisle’s zone defense and ran away to a 79-55, non-conference victory at Abundant Life.
Led by senior post Garrett Southerland, three Owls players scored 20 or more points in what could have been a postseason preview, or at least a postseason measuring stick, for Abundant Life.
Carlisle is in the 6-2A South and Abundant Life is in the 5-2A North and their shared classification means they could meet again in the postseason regionals at White Co. Central. At the very least, Abundant Life coach Tim Ballard got an idea of what the competition is like elsewhere in the 2A.
“I feel like we get a terrible draw in region and a terrible draw in state every year,” Ballard said. “You look at that region, you’ve got Carlisle, Hughes Palestine-Wheatley, Hazen. All of them are good but all of them play kind of a similar style as this so I think it will give us confidence when we get there that we’ll be ready to play.”
The preferred style in Carlisle’s neck of the woods is zone defense, but Abundant Life was able to break it down in the first half to take a 37-27 lead it extended to almost 30 points late in the closing minutes of the second half.
“We try to keep the floor balanced and use a lot of pump fakes to get them out of position and try to get some easy ones,” Ballard said. “My philosophy is if you score some easy ones against the pressure then you’ll make them do something different.
“So that’s what we were trying to do and luckly we had some shots go down at some key times.”
Carlisle coach William Rountree said the Bison did shake up their defense with some man-to-man, with pretty much the same result.
“We’re primarily a zone team,” Rountree said. “We played some man tonight, didn’t seem to do real good in it. We kind of switch it up. I’ll go back and watch the film and I’m going to bet I’ll see a lot of breakdowns.”
Southerland led Abundant Life with 26 points, Mike Stramiello had 21 and George Herring scored 20. D.J. Lowe led Carlisle with 20 points and Chris Larkin scored 14.
“They’re all averaging 15-20 points, all three of them,” Ballard said.”So if I can get four or six points form the other six guys that play then we’re usually okay.
“So that doesn’t surprise me those three leading us in scoring. They do it every game.”
Carlisle jumped to an 8-2 led thanks in part to early three-pointers by Malcolm Murray and Lowe.
Abundant Life went in front 9-8 when Ryan Johnson made a three-pointer from the right corner with 2:51 left in the first quarter.
The Owls led the rest of the game, but the Bison kept it close through most of the first half. Larkin scored to pull Carlisle within 20-17 and Murray made a three-pointer to cut the lead to 26-21 with 3:48 left in the half.
But Herring got a rebound and scored for the Owls to make it 28-21 and Southerland scored on a follow-up shot as the ball rolled around the rim before falling in to make it 32-23.
Stramiello got a steal and a layup for the first double-digit lead, 34-23, and Herring added a three-pointer for the Owls’ last points of the half, which ended with them in front 37-27.