SHEPHERDSTOWN — Never in 60 years known for its defense, Shepherd literally choked the life out of Alderson-Broaddus with a stifling full court, man-to-man pressure defense that carried the effort-giving Rams to a mammoth 92-59 conference win over the Battlers.
Prior to Saturday’s thorough spanking at the Butcher Center, Alderson-Broaddus was an unbeaten 4-0 in WVIAC games. Ever since Coach Greg Zimmerman has been guiding Alderson-Broaddus’ fortunes, the Philippi-based school has ridden high in the WVIAC standings. And that has been about a dozen years.
But Shepherd dismantled the Battlers on Saturday, causing 30 turnovers and making 12 steals with the various player combinations Zimmerman put together in a futile effort at trying to stanch the ever-rising Shepherd scoring tide.
Shepherd’s 12-point halftime lead grew and grew in a second half where the Rams outscored the troubled Battlers by another 21 points.
Coach Justin Namolik seemed to have a roster full of effective players, with those off the bench nearly matching the overall contributions of his starters. Any and all of Namolik’s first nine players gave the Rams points, steals, rebounds, and unsolved-by-the-Battlers defense.
There had been 20 Alderson-Broaddus turnovers by halftime.
Once the Rams forged an 18-16 lead, they were never much problemed by anything ther Battlers had to offer.
Kevin Jones, Marcus Pilgrim, Aeron Spencer, and Logan Holloman hopped off the Shepherd bench to provide whatever seemed necessary at the time.
As the second half became a showcase for Shepherd’s pressure defense, the number of outright steals that led to crowd-pleasing dunks and scoreboard-pleasing layups steadily increased Shepherd’s margin.
Fouls hadn’t troubled the Rams in the first half. The pressure defense was so useful it had the Battlers losing turnovers and beginning to lose contact on the scoreboard.
Even though they committed five fouls in the first 2:45 of the second half, the Rams continued to rid the Battlers of the ball without sending them to the foul line too often. Alderson-Broaddus tried only nine free throws in the second half.
The stunning 33-point win saw Shepherd shoot 21 more free than the Battlers, whose desperation was shown at times as it unsuccessfully tried to stop breakaways.
The usual cast of Shepherd contributors was on hand as well as the helpful reserves. Chad Moore had 21 points and seven of the Rams’ 42 rebounds. It appeared that Austin Cunningham had more than 17 points and six assists as he continually sliced through the Alderson-Broaddus defense. Brantley Osborne, Morgan McDonald, and Sidney McCray combined for 25 points and 15 rebounds.
The Butcher Center, opened in 1988, had never seen a Shepherd defense so thoroughly crumble any opponent in its history. And certainly, still-standing Sara Cree Hall and now-gone White Hall never were witness to a suffocating defense that caused a team with an unbeaten conference record to fall/fail so completely.