ARGOS — Argos has some shooters this season, but the young team’s heavy reliance on the outside shot hasn’t yielded great results in the early going.
The Dragons stressed getting into the lane to good effect Tuesday as they claimed a convincing 54-43 victory over visiting West Central in the first round of the boys Winter Classic tournament at home at Phil Weybright Gymnasium.
Argos (2-5) advances to face Winamac — which beat Knox 42-38 at Winamac Tuesday — in the championship of the four-team tourney in the main gym at West Central Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
“I thought the kids did a great job being aggressive on offense,” said Argos head coach Doug Snyder. “The first too many games we relied on our outside shooting, our 3-point shooting, but tonight I thought we did a much better job at attacking the basket and getting some points in the paint and then balancing it out with some 3s as well.”
Cain Thorn put up a game-high 20, and Dominic Cataldo finished with 15 working off the dribble, while Max Bailey knocked down three triples en route to 11 points as the third Argos player in double figures. The balanced inside-outside offensive effort snapped a three-game losing streak and gave the Dragons their first win since a Dec. 10 victory over Jimtown.
“Cain and Dominic, tonight they did a great job of going to the basket. They were very good throughout the game at getting to the basket and either getting a bucket for us or getting to the free throw line,” said Snyder. “Max did a great job of coming off the bench and hitting some 3s for us; he had three 3s there so he was real important on that outside balance with his shooting.”
Argos jumped out to a 13-8 lead in the first quarter and a 29-12 halftime cushion en route to the tournament-opening win. But after running up a 46-26 lead going into the fourth frame, the young team gave nine points of that lead back on some careless turnovers for easy buckets by the Trojans (2-7).
“We’re in our seventh game. I don’t want them reading and saying ‘It’s all youth.’ It’s time now to start turning a corner,” Snyder said. “We’ve had a little bit more experience. Yeah, we’re still going to make some dumb mistakes, but as a team we need to start growing and getting a little bit better at handling things like that, and I think that’ll continue to get better.”
Along with his game-high 20 points, Thorn also pulled down a team-high four rebounds, while Taylor Ogle finished with two assists and three steals for the Dragons.
West Central was led by Rusty Disinger’s 12 points, 10 of which came in the second half.
Argos improves to 2-5 on the year and advances to the Winter Classic championship tonight to play Winamac at West Central. The last time the two teams met in the Dragons’ season opener, the Warriors handed them a slim 39-38 loss. Since then, Winamac has rattled off five straight wins while Argos has suffered a pair of slim losses, each followed by blowouts to Northern State Conference schools LaVille and John Glenn.
“As a coach you always want things to be a little bit better than what they are, but overall I’m pretty pleased,” said Snyder. “We talked before Christmas break we were 1-5, and we could have been 3-3 or 2-4. We lost a one-point game, a double overtime game, a six-point game, so I’d like to have seen us pull one of those out. We talked about when we come back from Christmas it’s time to start a new season. We use that as kind of like our preseason. We’ve learned some things, and we’re hoping to take it to another level and maybe win some of those close games.”
• ARGOS 54,
WEST CENTRAL 43
Score by quarters
West Central: 8 12 26 43
Argos: 13 29 46 54
WEST CENTRAL (43): Zeph Conley 3 0-0 7, Dylan Laposi 0 0-0 0, Rusty Disinger 5 2-3 12, Evan Kruger 3 0-3 7, Spencer Dobson 4 0-3 8, Michael Hamilton 0 1-2 1, Drew McKay 2 0-0 5, Spencer Holliday 1 1-2 3, Luke Myers 0 0-0 0; Totals: 18 4-13 43.
ARGOS (54): Taylor Ogle 1 0-1 2, Dominic Cataldo 6 3-6 15, Cain Thorn 8 4-8 20, Zach Hartman 0 0-1 0, Justin Cunningham 0 0-0 0, Brian Snyder 0 0-0 0, Dakota Earnest 0 0-1 0, Derrick Jensen 0 0-0 0, Max Bailey 3 2-3 11, Casey Johnson 2 1-1 6, Ben Carter 0 0-0 0; Totals: 20 10-21 54.
3-point goals: West Central 3 (Conley, Kruger, McKay), Argos 4 (Bailey 3, Johnson); Turnovers: West Central 22, Argos 15; Rebounds: West Central 13 (Dobson 7), Argos 8 (Thorn 4); Assists: Argos 5 (Ogle 2); Steals: West Central 4 (McKay 2), Argos 9 (Ogle 3); Fouls (fouled out): West Central 18 (none), Argos 14 (none).
Records: Argos 2-5, West Central 2-7