UTICA — The Utica Redskins (3-1, 2-0 Mid-Buckeye Conference) are off to a flying start in league play as they knocked off the visiting Johnstown Johnnies, 56-43, in Tuesday’s MBC action.
The Redskins’ offense was led by Scott Cline with 18 points and Nate Wyscarver who threw in 16, including four 3-pointers. The real difference for the Redskins, however, was on defense.
Utica went toe-to-toe under the boards with the bigger Johnnies, grabbing 18 rebounds to the Johnnies’ 21.
“Our whole team is thriving on rebounding right now,” said Cline, who led the Redskins in rebounds with seven. “We’re a smaller team and we need to box out. That’s one of our main goals this year is to get more rebounds than every team we play. Especially offensive (rebounds) because, if the other team gets them, they can get easy two-point buckets because they’re a lot taller than us.”
That’s been the plan for the Redskins all year.
“Our kids know that we have to play defense first and foremost,” said Utica coach Eric Sheck. “That’s what we stress as a staff and that’s what our kids understand. Our game really starts on the defensive end. Being undersized, anytime we can get rebounds, that’s a big plus for us. Scotty did a nice job under the boards tonight.”
Utica broke out to a 10-point lead on the second quarter, partly on the strength of Wyscarver’s trio of second quarter 3-pointers, the last coming at the halftime buzzer. While Wyscarver was the hot hand from outside, the rest of the Utica offense ran the Johnnies ragged.