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MILLERSBURG -- Friday night in Millersburg, any chance West Holmes had of springing an upset of Wooster was shot down in a hurry.
Already athletic and active, Wooster has added long-range shooting to the list of attributes making it even more dangerous so far this season.
The Generals came out in the first quarter and lit up the Knights with seven 3-pointers, building a 14-point lead and setting the tone for an 87-50 win in the Ohio Cardinal Conference opener for both teams.
Trever Smith (17 points) connected on the first and last 3s of the period, Calvin Blair dropped in a pair and Devin Haid and Colton Sparks drilled one apiece as Wooster bolted to a 23-9 lead. The only non-3 of the period was a fastbreak dunk by Peyton Bennington, who had game-highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Generals to their third win in as many tries.
"We come in with the reputation of being athletic and getting after people, but we're shooting 47 percent on the 3-point line this year, and when you're doing that, when teams come out and play zone, it's a welcome kind of thing," said Wooster coach Michael Snowbarger.
"All of our shooters have confidence, and we don't want them out there thinking what a good shot is or isn't. They all have confidence and we're going to keep that confidence in them, and when you're a confident shooter, good things happen."
The one constant since Snowbarger took over last year has continued, and that's the constant pressure the Generals use defensively. They harassed the Knights into 28 turnovers, including 15 in the first half that ended with Wooster ahead 52-30.
West Holmes (0-3) managed to survive the early 3-point barrage and actually was within nine at 32-23 with under 4 minutes to go in the first half on two free throws by Brayden Chaney, but committed five turnovers during Wooster's 20-7 run to close the half. The Knights used an 8-0 run early in the third quarter to get within 19 (57-38), but back-to-back 3s from Smith bumped the WHS lead back out to 23 and it was never under 20 again.
"'They're so deep, they're very athletic and they keep coming at you," Knights coach Keith Troyer said of the Generals. "They're gonna make a run and you have to try and withstand it. We had it down to 12 and then it went to 24 real quick. That's what they do, we knew that. Against a team like that, you have to take care of the ball.
"We knew Trever could shoot the ball," Troyer added, "but they just came down and all shot it. We thought we had a good game plan going in, but when they knock down 3s, there's not a whole lot you can do."
The Knights, who lost their first two games to Orrville and Triway by a combined five points, made just one 3-pointer themselves and finished with 15 fewer field goals than the Generals (29-14). Josh Goudy worked inside for team-highs of 12 points and eight rebounds, while guard Chase Wells went 6 of 6 at the foul line and added 10 points.
"Tonight I think we worried more about other things than what we were supposed to worry about on the court," Troyer said. "This was a big test for our mental toughness -- I thought we were getting better at it, but tonight we took a step back."
In addition to Bennington's point total that included a pair of dunks, Haid added two slams of his own en route to an 18-point night.
The 6-foot-1 guard also canned three 3s, grabbed a half-dozen rebounds, handled the ball out front and was a factor in Wooster's pressing, trapping defense that never allowed West Holmes to set up and run its offense.
"I expect a lot out of Devin and I've told him that," said Snowbarger of his senior who didn't see much action off the bench a year ago. "We have that kind of relationship where I can get on him, and he knows that, even if he doesn't always like it. He's grown up a lot over the last year, and that's what you love to see as a coach."
After the hot start, Wooster cooled off from long distance and finished 12 of 33 from beyond the arc and 29 of 75 overall. The Generals outrebounded the Knights 47-40, with Blair (nine points) also picking off six and Colt Morgan five.
"Trever is one of those kids where the old adage that you have to guard him getting off the bus fits, and it's been contagious, because Calvin is shooting it, Devin is, and when all those guys are doing that, it's a good thing," Snowbarger said. "But like I told them, we can't fall in love with it, that can get us in trouble. We still need to keep taking it to the basket."
It's been a dozen years since Wooster won the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys basketball title -- the only one the program owns -- and Friday's victory has the championship chase off to a running start.
"It's way too early to look at the OCC right now," Snowbarger said. "We've got a lot of things to get better at and we're going to continue to work. If everything falls in line and we're there at the end, great, but we've got things to clean up now."
The Generals host Ontario tonight and OCC rival Mansfield Senior next Friday.