KEWANEE — When their defense creates offense, the Kewanee Boilermakers are tough to beat.
The Boilers turned up the defensive intensity several notches in the second half Friday night and pulled away for a 78-63 win over Hall at Brockman Gym.
Kewanee’s Three Rivers Conference opening win was spurred by a 20-8 blitz in the third quarter. The Red Devils hung around in the first half, using a box and one defense to slow Kewanee’s leading scorer Donovan Oliver.
“That’s the first time we’ve seen the box and one on Donovan,” Kewanee coach Steve Salisbury said. “I thought it bothered us a little bit and took a little bit off at the defensive end.”
Dalton Nuding scored eight straight points in the opening quarter, including consecutive three-point plays, to put the Boilers on top 12-7.
Hall trimmed the deficit to 13-12 at the quarter and briefly took the lead to start the second quarter, but the Boilers used a late flurry fueled by John Moraski and Juan Contreras to go on top 33-27 at the half.
Moraski and Contreras combined to score Kewanee’s last 10 points of the second quarter, with both knocking down 3-pointers, and Contreras scoring on a run out to give the Boilers their six-point lead at the break.
Kewanee continued its roll to start the second half, scoring seven consecutive points to stretch the lead to 40-27. Hall coach Mike Filippini burned a couple of timeouts in the opening minute of the third quarter to slow the Boiler roll, but the hosts maintained their double-digit lead the rest of the night.
“We challenged them at halftime to come out and play our defense to get Donovan in the flow offensively,” said Salisbury. “I thought we did that. The third quarter was a great defensive quarter and it showed with our offense.”
With Hall’s defense focused on Oliver, Dalton Nuding flourished in the paint for the Boilers. The senior forward finished with a game-high 21 points.
“If they’re going to take Donovan away, the middle has to be open, and Dalton is as good as anybody in that middle. He took advantage of them playing that box and one,” said Salisbury.
Oliver finished with a double-double — 13 points and 10 rebounds. Ian Trevier was the lone Red Devil in double figures with 12 points.
Kewanee moves to 5-3 overall and 1-0 in the TRAC’s South Division, while Hall falls to 2-4 and 0-2 in conference.
In Friday’s sophomore opener, Kewanee opened conference play by beating Hall 77-56.
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