MINONK — After three weeks of practice — including a week of watching other teams play in Thanksgiving tournaments — the Fieldcrest boys basketball team was antsy to start its season.
“It felt like we were practicing forever,” Fieldcrest senior Kyle Crowley said. “Most teams have about five games under their belts. I was real anxious to start playing.”
Apparently so, too, were his teammates.
In Tuesday’s season-opener against Putnam County , Crowley — a transfer from Pontiac — scored a game-high 18 points as Fieldcrest had five guys in double-digit scoring and hit 11 3-point shots as it rolled to an 80-56 win.
“With (senior center) Cole Klendworth out (with a broken foot), we have to rely a little more on pressure defense, quickness and getting the ball down (the floor) and penetrate,” Fieldcrest coach Matt Winkler said. “They were playing a 1-2-2 zone so we got a lot of good looks. I was extremely happy with how we moved the ball against the zone tonight.”
The Knights shot lights out early as they took a 22-11 lead after the first quarter and a 41-25 cushion at half.
In all, Fieldcrest shot 33-for-53 (62.2 percent) from the floor — including 11-for-24 (45.8 percent) from beyond the 3-point line — and scored 80 points despite going just 3-for-6 from the foul line.
“We’ve got a good shooting team, but I’m not sure we expected to score 80,” Crowley said. “Offensively, we looked really good and hopefully we can continue to keep shooting the ball like that.”
Down by as much as 19 in the third quarter, the Panthers (2-4) cut the deficit to 11 three times in the fourth quarter, including 64-53 with 4:07 left in the game.
However, Fieldcrest sophomore Jackson Puetz hit three 3-point shots over the next 2:15 to help put away the game.
“They are a good team, and we just got it handed to us tonight,” PC coach Josh Nauman said. “They hit a lot of shots and beat us from start to finish. We made a little run to give ourselves a chance, but they hit some 3s and then we’d come down and hit one out of two free throws. It got extended real fast.”
In addition to a game-high 18 points, Crowley grabbed seven rebounds in his Fieldcrest debut.
Senior guard Brady Sanders added 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while freshman center Drew Barth had 14 points and four rebounds.
Senior guard Nick Panzica chipped in 14 points — which included going 4-for-5 from behind the 3-point line — while Puetz scored 12 points, all on 3-point shots.
In all, four of the five Fieldcrest starters scored in double figures.
“We had five guys in double figures, and that’s pretty darn sweet,” Winkler said. “It’s going to send a message out to teams that they have to guard everybody, and I think with this team you do. We have a lot of good shooters, and I thought we showed that tonight.”
Junior guard Harold Fay scored a team-high 13 points for PC, while junior forward Evan Kreiser and junior center Kyle Edgcomb both added 11 points.
Note: Putnam County came away with a 51-40 win in the sophomore game. Austin Biagini scored a game-high 14 points for PC, while Matthew Modro and Jake Griffin both had a team-high nine points for Fieldcrest.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.