Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Allowing a season-high 75 points in a loss at Mid-Prairie last Friday was enough for West Branch head coach Jason Kern to look at making a defensive adjustment.
Really it was less about alignment and more about attitude that made Kern make the move from zone to man-to-man for Tuesday’s meeting with rival Regina.
“I wanted more energy,” Kern said. “I think our guys go harder when we play man-to-man compared to our zone.”
Kern got what he was looking for on Tuesday.
West Branch forced six first-quarte turnovers, turning several into easy transition baskets and rolled to a 78-59 win over Regina (2-10, 2-9) in a River Valley Conference South Division contest in West Branch.
“Defensively we went man tonight, we went away from our zone and we challenged our kids defensively,” Kern said. “Peyton Miller did an unbelievable job in the first quarter getting some steals and buckets and that was big for us.”
Miller had a pair of steals and led to layups as the Bears took a 16-10 lead after one quarter.
The senior had another steal and layup to go with a three-pointer in the second and finished with 18 points as West Branch improved to 6-5 on the season and in RVC play.
“A big part of what we needed to step up going forward was our defense which we hit very hard at practice this last week,” Miller said. “Defense is a big part of energy and once you get your defense up your energy comes up too and energy is one of the most important things you can have.”
Kern liked the defensive intensity he saw on Tuesday.
West Branch limited Regina to 37 points through three quarters while building a 28-point lead.
The man-to-man defense also created plenty of easy scoring opportunities for West Branch which shot 56 percent while scoring a season-high 78 points.
“If we are going to make a run we are going to have to be able to guard people man-to-man we aren’t going to be able to make a run going zone later,” Kern said. “We just really wanted to challenge these guys and that’s going to have to be our identity going forward and good defense is going to lead to some easy offense and hopefully we can keep that going.”
Sophomore point guard Holden Arnaman had a game-high 23 points but had plenty of help offensively on Tuesday as four Bears scored in double figures.
Junior Andy Henson had all 10 of his points in the first half and Miller had 12 of his 18 in the opening two quarters as West Branch built a 42-26 halftime lead.
“To be able to share that sugar right away and get the other guys involved was really good,” Kern said. “We know Holden is going to get his points so if we can get these other guys going where they can’t just key on one guy it’s going to be big for us down the stretch.”
West Branch was 7-of-30 from three-point range in its loss to Mid-Prairie but went 9-of-18 from deep on Tuesday.
Sophomore Reese Trephanier scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench for West Branch.
“When Brady and Peyton are hitting shots we are a really hard team to guard,” Kern said. “Andy is attacking like he is and getting boards and then Reese Trepanier was big off the bench. When we can get energy like that off the bench it’s huge for us any night.”
Grant Rustan had 16 points and six rebounds to lead Regina while Carter Leick had 11 points and six rebounds.
Carson Jensen added nine points for the Regals.
West Branch 16 26 23 13 – 78
Regina 10 16 11 22 – 59
West Branch (78) – Peyton Miller 7-11 2-5 18, Carver Boelk 1-3 0-0 3, Holden Arnaman 8-13 5-6 23, Brady Knoop 2-6 0-0 5, Andy Henson 4-6 0-0 10, Drake Berry 2-4 1-2 5, Reese Trepanier 4-8 3-3 12, Cash Woody 1-1 0-0 2, Totals 29-52 11-16 78.
Regina (59) – Carson Jensen 4-7 0-0 9, Connor Nicpon 2-3 0-0 6, Edward Petersen 2-3 0-0 4, Michael Martin 4-13 0-0 9, Jack Tierney 0-2 0-0 0, Carter Leick 4-6 3-3 11, John Devery 1-2 0-2 2, Dane Christians 0-1 0-0 0, Drew Streb 1-2 0-0 2, Grant Rustan 6-7 4-7 16, Totals 24-46 7-12 59.
3-point field goals – WB 9-18 (Miller 2-4, Boelk 1-2, Arnaman 2-4, Knoop 1-4, Henson 2-2, Trepanier 1-2), ICR 4-10 (Jensen 1-2, Nicpon 2-2, Martin 1-6). Rebounds – WB 21 (Arnaman 5, Trepanier 5), ICR 24 (Rustan 6, Leick 6). Turnovers – WB 4, ICR 13. Total fouls – WB 13, ICR 16. Fouled out – ICR (Jensen). Technical fouls – None.