For The Independent
For the first seven minutes of Wednesday night’s game, Russell’s Kyle Skaggs and Jacob Porter were unconscious.
And oblivious, or at least that is what they claim.
The two seniors started an 86-55 win over East Carter 8 of 8 from the field, including six 3-pointers, yet both said they had no idea that their team was still perfect from the field with under a minute to play in the opening quarter. The team started 9 of 9, with Googie Hayes accounting for the other basket.
“Wait, what? We were?” Skaggs said, when asked if he had an idea of the roll that his team was on.
Porter simply said, “I had no idea.”
However, the crowd knew exactly what was going on, and let out an audible gasp when what would have been Skaggs’ fifth 3-pointer was off the mark with 51 seconds to play in the first period.
The Red Devils (10-4) went on to miss more shots, but not many, as they shot a remarkable 58.9 percent clip in the rout at Marvin Meredith Gymnasium.
Russell coach Merle Kidwell said he wasn’t sure what the exact numbers were at the time, but he knew his team had something special going on early.
“When Kyle made his third three, I looked at coach (Joe) Bryan and just said ‘Wow,’ because he was so open,” Kidwell said. “Our guys just do a great job finding each other, especially Jacob and Kyle.”
The found each other often in the stretch, as they accounted for all but three of the 26 points scored during the run. Hayes supplied the other three with a 3-pointer of his own.
“I am always looking for that man,” said Porter, pointing at Skaggs. “I am never looking for my own shot.”
The unselfishness goes both ways.
“When I am not open, I am trying to find Jacob,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs finished with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while his partner added 13 on 5-of-9 shooting.
With shots seemingly falling from everywhere and the defense playing well, Kidwell said the first eight minutes went about as well they could have.
“When you score 30 points in a quarter and shots are going in, you look really good,” he said. “But not only were shots going in, but we held them to nine in the quarter. When you hold teams to a single-digit quarter, you are going to win a lot of ball games.”
While he acknowledged that Russell was making everything, East Carter coach Brandon Baker said his defense did nothing to try and stop them.
“We made the game very easy for them,” he said. “They got in rhythm and made shots, and we didn’t do a good job on our end.”
Trailing by 22 the half, the Raiders (5-8) tried to crawl back in the game with some quick 3-pointers, of which they made nine, but Russell consistently countered with some easy baskets.
“We never did stop them. The only thing that stopped them was the final buzzer,” Baker said. “To get back in it, we had to get consecutive stops and we didn’t. It was either a layup or an open jumper. We played the game about as poorly as you can play it in all aspects.”
Jordan Burchett and Quinn Huddle each scored 11 to lead East Carter.