PHILADELPHIA When Indian River missed its first three 3-point field goals of the game Friday night, it looked like the Warriors were in for a long night.
But all it took was a few of those long-range shots to go down to awaken the Indian River perimeter game. They made eight threes the remainder of the first half, including five by senior Justin Mattingly, and went on to a 71-51 Section 3 Class A first-round boys basketball victory over Fowler.
Indian River (14-5), the No. 6 seed, advanced to Tuesdays quarterfinal at No. 3 Cortland (16-2) at 7 p.m.
Juniors Daniel Angelo (15 points) and Shelton Williams (19 points) each hit three 3-pointers, and Indian River used its pressure defense to force 24 turnovers and record 15 steals en route to the schools first sectional win in seven years.
No way did I anticipate a game like that, said Indian River coach Tim Callahan, who had scouted Fowler and figured the No. 11 Falcons (5-11) would give his club a much tougher game despite a poor record. But I thought we really moved the ball well that first half and made the extra pass to get great shots. When those shots are going down, it makes your offense really click.
Mattingly, who passed older brother Jerrod as the schools single-season 3-point field-goal leader last week, said shooting is so contagious. Once you see that first one go in, you think you cant miss. Its like youre shooting into the ocean.
Trailing 6-4 early, Mattingly hit his first three at the 3:54 mark of the opening quarter. He hit two more before the period was over, helping vault Indian River into a 19-10 lead.
Angelo got into the act in the second quarter, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers over the Fowler zone. Williams and Mattingly then finished off the first half with the seventh and eighth 3-pointers of the half to boost the halftime lead to 40-22.
Forty points in a half is by far the most weve scored this year, Callahan said. I just figured they would switch out of the zone at some point, but for some reason they waited until the second half.
Indian Rivers pressure defense held the Falcons (5-12) to just nine third-quarter points. And the Warriors stopped firing from the outside and went inside more against the Fowler man-to-man.
We mixed up the press quite a bit and it really bothered them, Callahan said. Our guys were active with their hands and feet and really covered a lot of ground.
The Warriors led by as many as 30 points in the third quarter.
Junior Marcus Keys also scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Indian River. Luis Cirino led Fowler with 16 points.
Mattingly said Indian Rivers confidence level is high right now. But we know Cortland is really good, and that well have to play even better than tonight to beat them.
Cortlands only losses were to Class AA Christian Brothers Academy (50-43) and to defending state Class B champion Bishop Ludden (57-51). The Red Dragons beat Fowler 63-52 on Jan. 15.
They have good size and some good guards, Callahan said. Hopefully, our pressure can force some turnovers and we can continue making shots.