MIDDLETON If one of his Middleton High boys basketball players gets into foul trouble, coach Dale Karst doesnt wrinkle his brow and look hopelessly down at the faces on his bench.
The Vikings depth is an advantage not every coach in the 4A Southern Idaho Conference has been able to call upon this season, and its a big reason Middleton is unbeaten through six league games.
Our teamwork is whats getting the job done for us, and if we keep doing that and keep getting open shots every guy on our team can score, Middleton guard Keshawn Liggins said. If we keep playing together, no one can really beat us; at least thats the way I feel.
Liggins paced the Vikings with 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots, but it was strong play off the bench that made the difference in his teams 51-43 victory over Bishop Kelly on Thursday night at Middleton High.
Our kids are very unselfish, Karst said. We pass at the open man and right now were knocking down those shots.
Reserves Keith Myers and Hayden Bennett each scored eight points for Middleton.
Myers scored all eight during a two-minute stretch late in the third quarter that extended the Vikings lead to 13 points.
Keith Myers comes off the bench every game and brings us a spark, and thats why we call him the Spark Plug. Every time he comes in he gives maximum effort, Liggins said. Now Hayden Bennett, hes a shooter. When hes open, he knocks it down.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Bishop Kelly pulled within 44-38 with six unanswered points, forcing Karst to call a timeout.
When the game resumed, Bennett hit his second 3-pointer of the night to give the Vikings some breathing room.
Although BK held a 36-30 advantage on the boards, the Vikings bench contributed 16 points compared to Bishop Kellys two.
For us the real challenge is getting through the adversity and staying together and being positive, Bishop Kelly coach Larry Crump said. Its real easy when you win for everybody to like everybody and be good. The last couple games have not been to the standard that we expect. How are they going to respond to that?
More than half of Bishop Kellys basketball players helped the Knights win a state football title in November. Getting that same chemistry on the hardwood is still a work in progress.
Its how you stick together when you lose that matters, Crump said. Not only now, but in life. Well see where we go. Its a long season.
Bishop Kelly was led by senior forward Luke Meyers with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists. The Knights also got an emotional spark with the return of teammate Turner Simmons, who became eligible to play his first game for BK this season.
Ive played against him since I was in fifth grade and hes a great player, Liggins said of Simmons. I love playing against him and its good to see him back.