Strong perimeter shooting wasn’t high on the list of assets that helped Heights’ boys win three of four basketball games in December.
But the Falcons proved Saturday they have it in them.
Heights burned Maize South’s zone for five three-pointers in the first half, and plenty of other good things evolved from there as the Falcons rolled to a 71-57 victory in the City League vs. AV-CTL Challenge at Koch Arena.
Sophomore Davon Gill scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Heights (4-1), which dealt Maize South (4-1) its first loss. Senior reserve Jordan Wilbeck added 15 points, including two of Heights’ six threes.
Heights coupled 57-percent shooting from the field with an effective 2-3 zone defense to lead by as many as 20 points in the first half, and didn’t let the Mavericks get any closer than 12 after the break.
“We were just fortunate to have a hot start,” Heights coach Joe Auer said. “That was really the difference, I thought. Our great start really gave us a lot of options.”
Guard Semaj Hervey went 3 for 3 from three-point range — all in the first half — and Wilbeck’s three midway through the second quarter gave Heights a 31-11 lead. Gill, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, primarily worked inside and made 7 of 9 field goals, blocked three shots and had two steals.
“Our shooting opened things up,” Gill said. “I was just trying to take advantage of my opportunity.”
Maize South got 17 points from Kade Kordonowy and 15 from Brett Barney. But while Heights found new wrinkles early with its offense, the Mavericks shot 35 percent in the first half and went more than 4½ minutes without a field goal at the start of the second quarter.
“Instead of going after them and attacking them with pressure off the dribble, we became passive,” Maize South coach Kip Schultz said. “When you have a team like Heights that’s going to stretch its zone and put a little pressure on you, if you don’t crack the seams, you have no kick-outs and no easy looks. That’s why we struggled to score.”
The Mavericks shot 50 percent from the field in the second half, and cut their deficit to 44-31 midway through the third quarter. But Gill answered with a basket that started Heights on a 14-5 run that pushed its lead to 58-36 with 4:44 to play.
“There’s a lot of potential there,” Auer said of Gill. “He’s just scratching the surface.
“He was really bad the first three minutes of the game. We called a timeout and challenged him to tap in to some of his talent, and that’s what he did.”