By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
When Jordan Meadows and Terry Smith led their respective teams on to the court for the pregame, it was evident that this would not be the same Shady Spring and Summers County teams fans had become accustomed to seeing.
Gone were last year’s leading scorers for each team, Chase Connor and TaRon Ayers, and with them went a host of teammates. Neither Shady coach Steve Clark or Summers County coach Robert Bowling knew what to expect from the other team.
After four quarters, it’s evident who Shady is, while Summers may still be looking. The Tigers knocked off the Bobcats 71-48 in the opening game of the 2013-14 season.
“It’s really big for us to get that big first win,” Clark said. “We started off last year 0-5, so starting off with this win gets us off on a good foot.”
The Tigers didn’t seem to be missing their all-time leading scorer in Connor too much, utilizing a smothering man-to-man defense and points in transition to jump out to a 27-11 lead in the first quarter, which set the tone for the rest of the game.
The lack of Connor’s scoring presence opened the door for a more balanced attack, with three Tigers — Meadows, Drew Green and Tyler Bonds — finishing with double-digits. Joshua Snyder also had nine points.
“It makes everyone get involved a little more,” Clark said. “They know how important they are to the system. They’re going to have to go out there and get things done.”
Bonds especially had a dominating performance. The 6-4 center scored a team-high 16 points, using his height and size to his advantage over a much smaller Bobcats team.
“We’re expecting several good games from Tyler moving forward,” Clark said. “He’s a big ,strong kid and handles the ball well.”
“We’ve just got to go out and work the ball,” said Bonds. “We’ve got to play as a team. We can’t just have individual players. We’re going to work the ball and play team basketball.”
The de-facto leader of the team, Meadows echoed those sentiments.
“We played really well as a team,” he said. “We pass the ball inside when we need to, we shoot when we need to, we run when we need to.”
Meadows has taken on a larger role this season. Seen primarily as an outside threat to compliment Connor a year ago, he understands his role is changing.
“It’s a different experience than the team last year,” he said. “I was in the corner a lot and shot when I needed to do so. It’s been a big experience for me to step up and be a leader this season.”
The same could be said for the Summers County leader, Smith. Gone are Ayers and Isaiah Brown, leaving the senior — who spent part of the football season as the Bobcats quarterback — to be the quarterback for his team on the court, as well.
Smith finished the game with 24 points, nearing closer to 1,000 career points, as pointed out by Bowling after the game.
The rest of the Bobcats offense struggled, but Bowling doesn’t see that as a problem moving forward.
“Despite the way we shot the ball tonight, I believe in this team,” he said. “We took some quick shots and that leads to turnovers.”
The turnovers and quick shots could also be attributed to the Shady defense, which Meadows credits to the newest addition to the team, assistant coach Ronnie Olson.
“We’re playing better defense this year because of Olson,” he said. “In practice we push hard. We work on it for an hour. It’s mainly defense.”
Shady Spring (1-0) will travel to Princeton Tuesday, while Summers County (0-1) will welcome sectional foe Liberty.
— E-mail: jrollins
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Summers County (0-1)
Matt Ryan 1 4-6 7, Ashton Garten 0 2-2 2, Jacob Lively 1 2-4 5, Anthony Cales 3 1-2 7, Terry Smith 9 5-12 24, Dacota Thomas 1 1-3 3, Antonio Ford 0 0-2 0. Totals: 15 15-31 48.
Shady Spring (1-0)
Drew Green 4 0-0 11, Joseph Keller 1 0-0 2, Steven Chhabra 1 3-8 5, Joshua Snyder 3 3-3 9, Landon Perry 2 0-0 5, Nathan Williams 5 1-2 11, Keith Sexton 0 0-2 0, Matthew Plumley 1 0-3 2, Tyler Bonds 7 2-2 16. Totals: 27 11-28 71.
SC 11 7 17 13 — 48
SS 27 18 16 10 — 71
3-point goals — SC: Matt Ryan, Jacob Lively, Terry Smith; SS: Drew Green (3), Jordan Meadows (2), Landon Perry. Fouled out — None.