Any basketball coach worth his whistle can find something to dislike about a game. But Truman coach Rod Briggs found the nit-picking hard to do Thursday night.
It’s hard to find fault when your team shoots lights-out all over the floor, forces bundles of turnovers and dominates from start to finish, all of which the Patriots did in routing Southeast 79-45 in the first round of the Phog Allen Invitational at William Chrisman.
“Like I told the guys, it’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems,” Briggs said. “We’re probably somewhere in between, but it’s a nice way to start the season.”
The season couldn’t have started much better for Truman, which outscored Southeast (1-1) 26-7 in the first quarter and put up another 30 points in the second. The Patriots were a blistering 20 of 34 from the field in the first half, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range.
They were just as impressive on defense, forcing 22 turnovers in the first half and 29 for the game.
“That was a lot of fun,” Truman forward Macio Moananu said. “We worked hard and waited all summer for a game like that.”
Moananu’s fun included a game-high 19 points, both short-range and long. In the third quarter he made a nifty reverse layup, the second of his two floor-length slams and the last of his three 3-pointers at the buzzer.
And he was just one of four Patriots to reach double figures. Kaimen Lennox scored 16 points, 10 of them in the second quarter. Senior guard Caleb Allen came off the bench and also scored 16, and Jeilel Phillips had 13 in the second half.
“Offensively we moved the ball well the first half and shared it really well,” Briggs said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys who can really shoot the ball and spread you out … it makes it pretty tough on the defense.”
Briggs put Allen in after starter Sam Billimon picked up his second foul early in the first quarter. He immediately popped a three, and added back-to-back threes at the end of the quarter as the Patriots started rolling.
“For us to be successful we have to have three or four guys in double figures every night,” Briggs said. “And Caleb shot the ball so well. We put him in there and he was on fire.”
Lennox caught fire in the second quarter, which he closed with a personal 7-2 run that pushed Truman’s lead to 56-21 by halftime. Truman led 72-36 after the third quarter and by as many as 42 during a running-clock fourth quarter.
Southeast, a Class 4 state quarterfinalist last season, was led by Andre Parks with 18 points.
The win puts Truman in the semifinals of the second edition of the Phog Allen Invitational. The Patriots will face Lutheran North of St. Louis at 8:30 tonight. Lutheran North beat Kansas City Central 46-42 in overtime in Thursday’s tournament opener.
That doesn’t give the Patriots much time to savor their near-perfect opener.
“It was a solid game, but we’ve got to put it behind and move on to the next one,” Moananu said. “We’ll celebrate tonight and move on tomorrow.”