Sulphur Springs Boys Hammer Marshall, 72-40
SULPHUR SPRINGS -- Clark Cipoletta declined to call his team's demolition of Marshall a warning shot to the rest of District 16-5A.
Here's the truth. If Sulphur Springs plays the remaining games like it did Tuesday's 72-40 home victory, there is no doubt it will go down as the region's premiere large-sized boys basketball school of 2017.
Shooting 60.5 percent from the field in meaningful time while holding the opposition to 15.6 percent, forcing six more turnovers in three quarters, committing four less turnovers in the same span and winning the rebound battle by nine after 24 minutes will win every game.
All of it happened within the Wildcats' latest W against a program that won Sulphur Springs' district last season and enjoyed a 30-win season the year beforehand.
"Let's pump the breaks on that," Cipoletta said when asked if he felt like the win was indeed a red flag for the Mavericks and the other five district opponents. "But I do think we have put a name for ourselves. That Sulphur Springs is really serious about basketball, have kids that work really hard and deserve to be successful is what we're doing. Warning shots? People can take them as they want, but I think we are for real. Hopefully, we'll show that the remainder of the year."
Sulphur Springs (17-4, 2-0 in 16-5A) -- a team working for its first playoff appearance since 2014 -- closed the first quarter on an 11-0 run for a commanding 19-4 advantage. It was just the appetizer.
A 30-4 run over the final five minutes of the first half and through the first five minutes of the third quarter sealed the Mavericks' (14-9, 0-2) fate. That made it a 49-12 game with 3:35 left in the period.
Marshall shot 1-for-15 and committed six of 16 turnovers through the end of third quarter during the span. Of the 16 turnovers, the Wildcats forced 12 on steals.
Sulphur Springs had five non-starters on the floor for the fourth quarter to nurse a 61-18 lead.
Two of five Wildcats starters were sophomores and a third, utility player Michael Jefferson, is a freshman.
Sophomore center Victor Iwuakor had the the best performance. He recorded four blocks, four defensive rebounds and seven points in the first quarter alone.
Iwuakor blocked four more shots between the second and third quarters, which played a huge roll in Marshall's 7-for-45 night from the field ahead of a throwaway fourth period. He also scored a team-best 17 points and ended up with three steals.
Starting sophomore guard Keaston Willis followed close behind Iwuakor with 15 points. Senior guard Ke'ontae Dunn recorded 12 points. Jefferson's 11 tallies through three quarters of work rounded out double-digit scorers on the winning side.
Four players in double digits contributed to a 23-of-38 field goal performance in three quarters.
Kris Dunn scored a game-best 20 points for Marshall. Twelve of his points were in the fourth quarter.
"It's just been hard work," Iwuakor said. "Last season wasn't that good. This year, we said we weren't going to lose anymore. We've come in every day with the goal of working hard and then playing hard in the games."
Tuesday's meeting was the Wildcats' first district game since opening the league schedule with a narrow 69-65 road win at Pine Tree on Dec. 20.
Mount Pleasant defeated Pine Tree elsewhere Tuesday in district action to elevate its own district record to 2-0. Texas High, which beat Marshall by 10 points on Dec. 20, had the night off and remained unbeaten in the league with a 1-0 mark.
The Wildcats travel Friday to Texas High for their first meeting against a district opponent with a league victory while Marshall simultaneously hosts Mount Pleasant.
"Texas High will be very similar to (Marshall)," Cipoletta said. "They can shoot the ball any given night, very athletic, they'll press you some. It's the same skill set. They're that athletic, really streaky and scary team. Especially going to T-High, because we're going to be in front of their home crowd. Hopefully, we can come out with the same start we got tonight."
Sulphur Springs 72, Marshall 40
At Sulphur Springs High School
Marshall 4 6 8 22 -- 40
Sulphur Springs 19 14 28 11 -- 72
Marshall (14-9) -- Kris Dunn 20, Corteze Hurd 7, Carrington Love 7, Davante Carlisle 2, Allen Medlock 2, Marje Smith 2.
Sulphur Springs (17-4) -- Victor Iwuakor 17, Keason Willis 15, Ke'ontae Dunn 12, Michael Jefferson 11, Unlisted Player 7, Dedric Godbolt 3, Dane Rutherford 3, Xavier Cork 2, Bryson Lynn 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Marshall: Dunn, Hurd, Love. Sulphur Springs: Willis (2), Dunn, Godbolt, Lynn, Rutherford.