The Laurel Highlands boys showed a lot of energy during Monday night’s Section 1-AAAAA, while visiting Connellsville was listless and the combination led to the Mustangs’ 64-33 victory.
The Mustangs (9-0, 11-3) rolled out to a 19-8 lead in the first quarter fueled by a strong defensive effort and a solid transition game.
“I thought there was a lot of good things to see tonight,” said Laurel Highlands coach Rick Hauger. “I liked our energy. We got our tempo going.
“Our defense was active and we hit the boards.”
The Mustangs were able to shut down Connellsville’s offense, especially the shot opportunities inside the lane that the Falcons created in the first game a couple weeks ago.
“Connellsville runs their offense well. They had the shots in the first game, but weren’t making them,” complimented Hauger. “There was no reason for them not to run the flex again. They run it well. Our guys defended it well tonight.”
Laurel Highlands kept the momentum going in the second quarter, extending its halftime lead to 38-14. The lead could’ve been larger had the Mustangs shot better.
“It’s to our benefit to get the tempo going a little bit,” said Hauger, adding, “Actually, we didn’t finish (some of the opportunities).”
The Mustangs continued to pull away in the third quarter, invoking the Mercy Rule about midway through. The home team led 53-28 after three quarters.
Laurel Highlands closed out the game with an 11-5 advantage in the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs’ Keondre DeShields and Brandon Davis shared game-scoring honors with 15 points apiece. Rodney Gallagher added 10.
Hauger said despite Connellsville’s record, it was the type of game the Mustangs needed with the WPIAL playoffs on the horizon.
“No question, regardless of their record, they’ll play hard and disciplined,” Hauger said of Connellsville. “It was a good game for us to have.”
Hauger, in a way, would like to see his team pick up on some of those attributes.
“We’re trying to be more disciplined in our approach, especially on defense,” said Hauger. “Our defense and rebounding have showed up a little bit more in the past two games.
“We still have work to do, no question.”
Gage Gillott led the Falcons (1-7, 1-7) with nine points. Liam Youdell scored seven and Josh Marietta added five.
Connellsville coach Andy Hedrick declined comment after the game.
Laurel Highlands closes the regular season at Uniontown, while Connellsville hosts Ringgold.