It took a whole half, but once the Meridian boys basketball team unleashed the full power of its full-court defense, there was no stopping the Trojans as they wore down visiting Granite Falls, 74-54, in a non-league contest on Thursday, Dec. 2.
“Our defense dictates what we do, and it certainly did tonight,” said Meridian coach Shane Stacy, whose squad evened its record at 1-1.
The Trojans also unveiled their platoon strategy, which saw Stacey substituting five players at a time every three or four minutes. Not only did Meridian’s fresh legs keep the pressure on Granite Falls the whole game, but the tactic led to an incredibly balanced offensive attack.
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All 12 Trojans scored with senior guard Dane Beck leading the way with 12 points. After that it was senior forward Bryce Johnson, junior forward Tyrel Brooks, and junior guard Hunter Jones all with 10.
“That’s our plan early in the season,” said Stacy of the platooning. “We want to give guys an opportunity to see what they can do.”
What they did is have fun. With the full-court press producing steal after steal and layup after layup, the Trojans went on 15-2 tear to start the second half to break away from a 30-30 halftime tie. The lead was 22 after three quarters and 28 in the fourth before Meridian called off the press.
“The second half was the most fun we’ve had in a while,” said Beck, remembering last year’s COVID-stained season. “We just got everyone going.”
“Dane put in the time this off season,” said Stacy. “Lots of kids think they have put in the time, but that’s rarely the case. Dane is easy to root for.”
Johnson, who skipped basketball last year to concentrate on his baseball career, returned to the court and was a physical force in the paint, leading the team in rebounds.
“Bryce is a quiet leader, who is physical and knows how to compete,” said Stacy, who also praised the play of Jones on offense and senior guard Tucker Harrison on defense.
Johnson said he was surprised at how much he was able to contribute after missing all of last year. But the senior, who also was a standout on the Meridian football team, said he missed playing with his friends.
“I missed playing ball,” said Johnson. “It was a lot of fun especially with the whole student section rising up.”
The Meridian student section was indeed in mid-season form especially considering it was a non-league, late-afternoon, Thursday game. Decked out in Hawaiian shirts and leis, they were on their feet cheering most of the second half.
Of course, they had lots to cheer about thanks to the Meridian defense.
Check out the previews for all the Whatcom County boys teams at Whatcom Hoops boys previews.
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.