OTTERVILLE — Drew Apsher scored 35 points and Will Tripp added 21 as Smithton beat Otterville 82-59 Monday to open round-robin pool play in the 21st Holiday Classic.
Smithton led 18-15 early in the second before the Tigers went on a 9-3 run sparked by a 3-pointer from Apsher. The Tigers continued building the lead in the second half.
“We were struggling with their 3-2, it was a little more spread out than we’ve seen in the past,” said Smithton coach Rich Pond. “We talked a couple times earlier about getting it to the high post and then passing through and that’s what we finally started doing.”
In a matchup of two up-tempo teams, both were happy to push the ball and look for points in transition. Otterville opened the second half with layups on its first four possessions but could not cut into the lead with the Tigers pushing the ball as well and getting their own points in transition.
“I think we handled their tempo OK at times,” said Otterville coach Jay Allen. “We gave up a couple easy layups but it wasn’t tempo, their tempo did nothing to hurt us (Monday), we hurt ourselves in the half-court, giving up too many easy post touches and not rotating.”
A lot of those post touches for Smithton led to back-door cuts for Tripp or Apsher, a new wrinkle to the Tiger offense Pond installed over the break. Seeing mostly shots in the paint, Tripp shot 10 of 13 from the field.
“He was doing a good job of being in the right position,” Pond said. “We’ve worked on that a lot over Christmas break, just getting to a position where a guard can get you a good pass and he was getting there and then he did a good job of finishing at the rim.”
Brandon Amos added 12 points for the Tigers.
Jake Neal led the Eagles with 20 points. Garret Lynn scored 14. Billy Albin and Franklin Oswald each scored nine.
Otterville (4-4) will face Northwest at 8 p.m. Friday in the Holiday Classic.
The win is the 100th of Pond’s career. Smithton (7-2) will face Northwest in its second game of the Holiday Classic at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Otterville and Smithton will meet again in Kaysinger Conference play Jan. 19.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles