Visiting Indian Valley High got a new season on the hardwood off in fine fashion Friday night with a convincing 86-44 victory over Newcomerstown High in a non-league match-up.
Playing a key role in the Braves' opening night success was senior Dalton Bolon who poured in a game-high 39 points in a dazzling performance that included a pair of slam dunks. Bolon, who recently signed with West Liberty University finished with a 15-for-25 shooting effort which included four three-pointers also handed out five assists and collected five steals in the contest.
"Dalton is one of the hardest working kids I've ever coached," Indian Valley head coach Jamie Herman explained. "He just does a little big of everything out on the floor for us...a talented kid. He just signed to attend West Liberty next year and has worked very hard to make that happen."
Indian Valley took control of the contest right from the opening tip-off, with Bolon putting up 12 points in the opening quarter to lead 25-4 after the first quarter of play.
The host Trojans managed to put up a little better fight in the second stanza to only be outscored by a 16-13 margin to trail 41-17 at the halftime intermission with junior Brennan Wilkin scoring seven points off the bench.
But to open the second half of play it was the Braves again flexing their muscle to post a huge 28-4 advantage in the third quarter to build a comfortable 69-21 lead heading to the final period.
Bolon once again lead the IV charge with 10 more points in the frame for the Braves.
On the other sideline, Newcomerstown head coach Rod Bonamico just felt that Bolon and his teammates proved just too strong for his Trojans' squad on this night.
"Bolon is a very good player...you can tell he has really worked at his game," Bonamico offered. "He's talented and has a real good understanding of how to play the game of basketball."
"Add to that Indian Valley as a team is very talented," Bonamico. "We might not play a better team all year...give them credit they are just more physical, more talented than we are right now."
Despite Bolon's big night he was far from a one-man team for the Braves with senior Brady Cotsmire adding double figure support with 10 points while junior Jarret Helter finished with eight markers, senior Dakota Skelly added seven with freshman Karson Hartick and senior Conner Ferguson each contributing six points each.
But the game stat that Herman was most pleased with following the victory was in the assists department with the Braves recording a team total of 24 in the game.
"The thing I most pleased with is the way we shared the basketball tonight," Herman said. "That is a very important part of our game and the kids did a great job tonight in that area."
"When we play that way we are tough to defend," Herman continued. "Dalton will get his points but he will also hit the open man for a better shot. That will make it tough for other teams to shut us down."
Following the tough opening night loss, Bonamico talked to his team about one area that they must improve upon going forward.
"We have to be more patient and learn how to run our offense in a half court setting," Bonamico offered. "Too many times tonight we would get in a hurry and just not execute the offense all the way through and we talked about that after the game. We just need to get better in that area and will get to work on fixing it."
Wilkin finished with 16 points to lead the Trojans (0-1), while junior Bryce Barbera and sophomore Nick Millender each tallied eight points and junior Branden Septer added four points with a team-high six assists and a pair of steals.
And it was Septer who drew high praise from Bonamico for his efforts following the contest.
"All i know is I had to catch Brandon on the sidelines after his dove after a loose ball with like two minutes left in the game," Bonamico continued. "That kid gave everything he had for the whole game...just all out effort. Really happy to see that kind of effort regardless of the score, you really can't ask much more of a kid than that."