Wichita South’s offense has, in the last year, come a long way – literally.
Once a team full of three-point marksmen, South has traded its long range for shots near the basket. Coach Chuck Gunter emphasizes them so much that he’ll substitute players who take ill-advised jump shots and forgo something more dependable.
South’s defense, which helped create 21 Maize South turnovers on Friday night, orchestrated several such shots. The Titans scored 22 points in the first and fourth quarters in a 69-57 win at Koch Arena.
Wichita South (6-3) used its athleticism for steals and blocked shots that built a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, then relied on it to regain control after Maize South took the lead in the third quarter.
“We had some very unique guard play last year, so we’re making adjustments,” Gunter said. “This year I have a bigger team, I’ve got taller swingmen. So a lot of it is being able to find that chemistry, find that offense. Last year we had the best of both worlds, but now we’re a lot bigger and now we’ve got to be able to defend the smaller guards on the other team.”
Wichita South used an all-in approach to neutralize Maize South’s quickest players. Wichita South’s 10 first-quarter baskets allowed the Titans to employ a full-court press, and Maize South’s guards often couldn’t elude the long arms and quick hands of Wichita South defenders.
Maize South had eight turnovers in the first quarter and the demoralizing nature was felt as Wichita South scored the final six points of the first in a 50-second span. The Titans built the lead to 24-14 after scoring first in the second quarter.
“We’re getting better,” Gunter said of Wichita South’s defensive buy-in. “We show it in spurts, but we have to be consistent. (Turnovers) helped, but like I said, the boys have to stay on top of it. Our vocabulary – consistency, and that’s what we’ve got to have.”
That characteristic eluded Wichita South for much of the middle two quarters. It took the Titans nearly 16 minutes to match their 22-point first quarter, while Maize South rallied by drawing fouls and avoiding turnovers.
Maize South scored nine of the first 11 points in the third quarter and took leads of 33-32 and 35-34. Wichita South’s scoring lull kept the Titans from pressing, and Maize South controlled the tempo.
Wichita South, though, rediscovered its first-quarter groove in the fourth. Maize South had five turnovers and South’s scoring surged again, building the lead as high as 18 points.
Jariah Taylor was frequently involved in Wichita South’s efforts on both ends. He set the tone on the press with pressure on Maize South’s guards and was often rewarded at the on offense, as he scored 23 points.
Taylor was benched briefly in the second quarter for taking a quick jump shot. When he went back in, he followed Gunter’s plan perfectly.
“I told him don’t settle for jump shots,” Gunter said. “If you get a quick path to a layup, take the layup. When Jariah is focused, he is one of the top players in the City when he has everything going.
“We played through some adversity and we overcame it.”
Maize South 14 12 11 20 -- 57
Wichita South 22 10 15 22 -- 69
MAIZE SOUTH: Hartig 5, Knoblauch 5, Veenis 7, White 3, Richardson 6, Kordonowy 6, Bontrager 14, Wiedemann 11.
SOUTH: Jones 3, Adkism 13, Taylor 23, Tate 12, Papamie 4, Manning 4, Scott 2, Silmon 4, Lemovou 4.