ALBURNETT — Jeff Christopherson sounds like many area basketball coaches these days.
“We just need to play,” said the Alburnett boys coach.
As has been the case with many squads, the start of the season was delayed for the Pirates due to the school district going to a complete online curriculum for two weeks.
That lack of court time showed during Friday night’s Tri-Rivers Conference matchup with Lisbon. There were struggles to be sure, but the Pirates were dialed in on the defensive end. That allowed them to gradually pull away to a 65-40 win over the Lions.
“We missed about 12 days of practice being out of school,” Christopherson said. “We were a pretty good defensive team last year and we told the kids that’s what we have to rest our hat on every night.
“I’ve told them if we can build a pretty good defensive team, that can help us to be a pretty good offensive team. t showed tonight. We got quite a few interceptions and forced a couple of 10-second calls on them.”
The Pirates coach singled out the play of Shane Neighbor, who held Lisbon standout Kole Becker to seven points.
“I thought Shane did a heck of a job on Kole Becker tonight,” Christopherson said. “He’s a really good basketball player and to hold him down like Shane did was impressive.”
It also helps to have Hunter Caves back on the floor. The senior missed all of last season with a knee injury after playing a big role in helping the Pirates to a state runner-up finish in 2019.
He finished with 15 points and had several nice assists.
Christopherson is pleased with the way Caves has worked his way back.
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“We’re still getting everybody used to playing with Hunter again,” Christopherson said. “With him back, we’re going to be moving the ball up the court a little faster than we did last year. People are going to have to look for those passes, but that is going to come as we are able to have more practices.”
Alburnett used an 11-0 run at the end of the first and the start of the second to build a 29-19 lead. The margin grew to 45-30 after three quarters and the Pirates put it away in the fourth with a series of steals that turned into baskets.
Reed Stallman led the winners with 17 points before leaving with what appeared to be a slight knee injury after colliding with Lisbon’s Gavin Wollum in the fourth quarter. Wollum suffered a cut on his head and also left the game.
Tyson Scott led the Lions (1-1) with a game-high 20 points.
The Alburnett girls rolled to a 47-17 win in the first game of the twinbill. Megan Neighbor led the Pirates (3-0) with 16 points while Rhea Armon chipped in with 13. Mia Peterson paced the Lions (0-2) with six points.
LISBON (40): Tyson Scott 9 2-3 20, Will Bennett 0 0-0 0, Tyler Scott 4 0-1 8, Kole Becker 3 0-0 7, Hunter Neymeyer 0 0-0 0, Gavin Wollum 0 1-2-1, Carter Hall 0 1-2 1, Kaeden Harrer 0 0-0 0, Nolan Reiling 1 0-0 2, Cohen Kamaus 0 0-0 0, Dillon Brayton 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 5-8-40.
ALBURNETT (65): Reed Stallman 8 1-5 17, Andrew Ossman 2 0-0 4, Kale Rose 1 0-0 2, Shane Neighbor 5 0-0 10, Hunter Caves 6 3-6 15, Gavin Soukup 3 1-4 8, Cael Neighbor 0 0-0 0, Mason Neighbor 1 1-1 3, Adam Neighbor 0 0-0 0, Anthony Yamilkoski 0 0-0 0 Braydon Osborn 2 1-1 6, Cody Rammelsberg 0 0-0 0, Grayson Carolan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28 7-18 65.
Halftime: Alburnett 29, Lisbon 19. 3-point goals: Lisbon 1 (Becker), Alburnett 2 (Soukup, Osborn). Total fouls: Lisbon 17, Alburnett 10. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: none.