Black Knights joust Senecas

VAN BUREN – It was a good game Saturday for Van Buren. And a good three games for Ryan Adolph.

Adolph rolled for a career-high 30 points and added six rebounds in powering the Black Knights to a 69-59 win over Calvert.

The first three-and-a-half minutes of the game were critical as Van Buren notched its second win of the year against seven losses while dropping the Senecas to 2-10.

It was all listed in black and white as Calvert coach Ted Willman did a post-game analysis of the possession chart.

“You look at our side, it’s turnover, turnover, turnover, missed shot, turnover, turnover” Willman began. “And on their side, plus-2, plus-2, plus-2”

Calvert had six turnovers in its first eight tries while the Black Knights were hitting each of their first seven shots. Much of that came from Adolph, who was dominant right from the start.

The 5-foot-11 senior found openings in the Calvert zone and had two inside hoops, a pair of foul shots and then a three-point play as Van Buren opened a 13-2 lead with 4:20 still to go in the first period.

By quarter’s end, the Knight lead was 21-13 with Adolph accounting for 15 of the points.

“The Adolph kid was something,” Willman said. “I mean, is he capable? Yeah, but we hadn’t seen him do that before tonight.”

Neither had anyone else.

Adolph came into the game averaging 9.2 points per game. His previous high this season was 15 in a 36-point loss to Miller City. He had three other games in which he reached double figures.

“Ryan is one of those guys whose motor’s always running,” Van Buren coach Marc Bishop said. “The thing is, he let the game come to him tonight. Even though he had (30) points, he didn’t have shots that he forced. He took them within the offense by attacking the gaps.”

The Senecas could never quite overcome that early burst.

The closest was midway through the second quarter, when Brad Iannantuono and Austin Perry scored in the lane. Then Mike Bennett hit a jumper and fed Jared Thompson, whose basket trimmed the Knight lead to 25-21. But Adolph scored three times and passed to Matt DeVore for another for a 33-26 edge at the half.

Van Buren’s lead was in the 10-point range much of the second half, though an Austin Ball basket, followed by Brian Gruss’ 3-pointer pulled the Senecas to within 45-40 with 2:56 left in the third. This time Brennon Swain and Draeton Fasone hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push the margin again.

“I never felt like they were going to run away from us,” Willman said. “But at the same time, it seemed like every time we started to make a run, they came up with something to keep us away.”

Ball hit a couple 3-pointers in leading Calvert with 12 points. Gruss hit three from long range and added 10 points, as did Marcus Somers. Bennett had nine points and four assists and Thompson checked in with eight points.

Adam Endicott had 10 and Fasone nine for the Black Knights.

“Tonight, because we were patient on offense, we were able to get a lot of high-percentage shots,” Bishop said. “We’ve been telling the guys, ‘we’ve got to get in the paint more, drive to the rim and draw some contact.’ I think we made a few strides tonight.”

That goes triple for Ryan Adolph.