LINDEN — Southmont boys basketball was a little late to beginning its season thanks to the success of the Mountie football team. It forced Southmont to re-schedule their first two games of the season (North Putnam & Sheridan). That meant the 2023-24 season would begin for South against a county and Sagamore Conference rival in the North Montgomery Chargers as the two rivals squared off on Friday. North was coming off a very impressive win over Fountain Central last Friday and now in its home opener also celebrated its seniors for senior night. South would get the final say over their county rivals and began their season with a 50-42 win.
In the first quarter both teams were in the feeling out process of the game which saw the Chargers lead by just a single point at 11-10. In the ladder stages of the second quarter the Mounties used a 7-0 run to take a 24-15 lead into the locker room. In the second half the Chargers would get close but could never sustain a run as they cut the Mountie lead to as little as six.
The first half of the game belonged to Mountie senior point guard Hayden Hess who scored 16 first-half points and ended with a career-high 20 to lead all scorers.
“We knew that this game was going to be a competitive and physical game ” Hess said after the win. “Not only was it our first but it’s also county and conference and of course a rivalry. We prepared all week to handle their physicality and that helped us out tonight. I felt good with my shot in warm-ups and it looked they came in keyed on stopping Vince (Reimondo) so I knew that I was going to have to shoot it more than I was expecting.”
Along with Hess’ 20, Southmont (1-0, 1-0 SAC) got 10 points from Vince Reimondo, eight from Carter Hubble (six in the fourth), and the trio of Evan Watson, Austin Foley, and Aaron McMasters each scored four. For the game South shot 19-46 (41%) from the floor and 5-15 (33.3%) from three with Hess making all five Mountie threes. From the free-throw line they shot 7-9, grabbed 29 rebounds and turned it over 10 times.
The county rivalry was also the coaching debut for 1st year Southmont coach Michael Byrum. Byrum noted his teams success in their season-opening win began on the defensive side of the ball.
“You saw that our guys were tired of practicing and wanted to finally go out and play,” Byrum said. “We spent a lot of time talking to our kids about how our defense needs to lead to offense. We want to play fast and score the ball a ton but none of that matters if we don’t get the job done on the defensive side. In total we got in about 19 practices before this game so they were ready to go. Even our football guys wanted to get right back out there too.”
North Montgomery (1-1, 0-1 SAC) was led in scoring by Jarrod Kirsch’s 13. Kelby Harwood and Noah Hopkins both scored 10. Ross Dyson added four, Colton Arnold three, and Corbin Meadows two. The Chargers shot 15-41 (36.5%) from the floor and also 5-15 (33.3%) from three. They made 7-11 foul shots, grabbed 27 rebounds and turned the ball over 15 times.
Afterwards Charger coach Chad Arnold spoke on the loss.
“South was really physical with us and we drove it too deep into their defense tonight,” he said. “We should’ve kicked it out more to the guys who were open and I thought we played a lot of one on one basketball which made us easier to guard. We didn’t run our offense very well and we’re still not great at it yet because it’s still new. I still loved the fight in our guys. They never quit and I’m proud of them for that.”
Defensively, the Mountie interior was led by Hubble and he made his presence felt with five blocked shots in the South win. The 6’5 senior big man certainly caught his coaches eye.
“Carter is going to have a great year for us,” Byrum said. “He’s had a great summer and great fall and we expect big things from him. He not only blocked a ton of shots but altered a ton too. We just have to keep him out of foul trouble a little better. Offensively with Hayden, we preach ball and player movement. It doesn’t matter the defense we’re going up against we have to move the ball and look for the open shot and tonight Hayden was the one who was open. All of our guys have green lights on shots they can make and he took full advantage of that.”
Both teams have quick turnarounds as they’ll both be back on the court on Saturday. The Chargers will be back at home for an afternoon contest vs Speedway which will get underway with the JV beginning at 2 p.m. South will hit the road again for a contest vs Cloverdale looking to begin the season 2-0.