(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
EAST PRAIRIE -- For the past two seasons the Bloomfield Wildcats have been trying to incorporate a full-court pressure defense into their style of play.
"It's been a culmination of building up to it," Bloomfield head coach Dustin Hicks said. "Last year we didn't have the depth at the varsity level but we pressed all the time with the J.V. and now we're getting to the point where we're doing it more with both groups."
Tuesday night's game against the East Prairie Eagles was the coming out party for the Wildcat press.
Bloomfield forced 10 steals and a total of 14 turnovers that led to a 31-2 blistering of the Eagles in the first quarter alone.
The Wildcats continued to dominate throughout the game as they went on to defeat East Prairie 79-30.
"The boys got out and pressured," Hicks said. "We've been waiting for this group because we think they have the ability to pressure. Tonight, they did a pretty good job of it."
The game started out with the Wildcats jumping out to a 15-0 lead in the first four minutes. At one point Bloomfield scored seven points in less than a 15 second span off of steals caused by the press.
"The turnovers obviously just killed us," East Prairie head coach Matt Schonoff said. "It's just one of those things where you have to give a lot of credit to Bloomfield. They saw how we were and they trounced on it and did what they needed to do to win the ballgame."
Bloomfield (7-5) swiped a total of 25 steals and forced 39 turnovers overall. They had already caused 18 steals and 27 turnovers by half time.
"We're starting to emphasize the defensive side of the basketball a little bit more," Hicks said.
It would just continue in favor of the Wildcats throughout the rest of the game. They held a 51-12 lead at the half which would only increase by the end of the third quarter where they held a 73-20 advantage.
A total of 11 Bloomfield players scored in Tuesday night's game while five scored in double figures. Derek Caldwell led the Wildcats with 12, Garrett Rice scored 10 points and also had five steals. Leighton Hensley chipped in with 11 points while Corey Smith and Blake Harris each added 10 points a piece.
Conner Scott led the Eagles with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Jones added eight points and five rebounds.
"We came out tight," said Schonoff. "We didn't come out really focused. We did have a couple of kids who really busted their tail. Kaleb Williford, the rebounding and the defense that he gave us was just outstanding. Conner (Scott) did well. He scored underneath the basket and was getting some rebounds."
East Prairie (3-5) will give it another go on Friday against Oak Ridge.