Middleton dispatches Bishop Kelly

Depth helps Vikings stay unbeaten with a 51-43 league victory.

rroberts@idahostatesman.comJanuary 10, 2014 

Bishop Kelly’s Turner Simmons, back, scrambles to take the ball down court while being guarded by Middleton’s Joseph Valencia. The Middleton boys basketball team remained undefeated after a 51-43 victory Thursday in Middleton.

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com

MIDDLETON — If one of his Middleton High boys basketball players gets into foul trouble, coach Dale Karst doesn’t 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 it’s a big reason Middleton is unbeaten through six league games.

“Our teamwork is what’s 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 that’s 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 team’s 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 we’re 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 that’s why we call him the ‘Spark Plug.’ Every time he comes in he gives maximum effort,” Liggins said. “… Now Hayden Bennett, he’s a shooter. When he’s 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 Kelly’s two.

“For us the real challenge is getting through the adversity and staying together and being positive,” Bishop Kelly coach Larry Crump said. “It’s 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 Kelly’s 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.

“It’s how you stick together when you lose that matters,” Crump said. “Not only now, but in life. We’ll see where we go. It’s 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.

“I’ve played against him since I was in fifth grade and he’s a great player,” Liggins said of Simmons. “I love playing against him and it’s good to see him back.”

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