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Using a collapsing 2-3 zone defense and a patient offensive attack, Maine South dominated the tempo, the glass and the scoreboard in a 67-43 nonconference victory over Taft Saturday evening. The Hawks, who never trailed, used their noticeable size advantage to control the paint in a game that was never really in doubt.
With all five starters standing over 6-feet, Maine South forces their opponents to shoot over their length, limiting drives to the basket. The defense clearly caused trouble for Taft, as the Eagles went more than nine minutes of game time without a point during the first and second quarters. During that stretch, the Hawks (14-3) scored 26 points, putting the game out of reach before the halftime buzzer.
“We were just really focused, and our defense was great,” said Hawks center John Solari. “We were talking a lot out there, doing a great job of communicating, and that’s when we are at our best.”
Often times, teams that run zone defenses have trouble rebounding. That clearly wasn’t a problem for Maine South, who out-rebounded Taft 34-14 during the game. Solari -- who along with reserve George Sargant tied for the team-high with 15 points -- was a force down low, corralling six boards and blocking a pair of shots.
“It was really important for us to control the boards,” Solari said. “We knew we had some size mismatches, so we dominated them down low.”
Maine South coach Tony Lavorato Jr. said following the win he was pleased with not only with his team’s performance, but also the effort they showed. The 12 second-chance points were a direct reflection of the hard work the Hawks put in to controlling the game from the start, the coach felt.
“I thought [Taft] was a little weak inside, so I was glad to see we could take advantage of them inside,” Lavorato said. “We really did what we needed to do. Our kids showed great resilience and we executed when we needed to.”
Taft (8-8) was led in scoring by forward John Joyce, who had 17 points in the losing effort.