Jersey destroys Roxana’s reconstruction, 65-29

ROXANA – If Roxana boys’ basketball coach Mark Briggs tells you his Shells got 99% of their offense from last season, he’s exaggerating.

It was 98 percent. In fact, 98.3%.

“Game 1,” Briggs said, “young kids, never played, their eyes are wide open, no doubt about it.”

And these young and inexperienced Shells watched the bigger, stronger and faster Jersey Panthers dominate on both sides of the pitch in a 65-29 win over Roxana on opening night of the first Shells Hoopsgiving Classic on Monday at Larry Milazzo Gym.

Jersey and Roxana have only played six times since 2000, with the Panthers winning all six. The Shells haven’t faced the Panthers within 14 points in that streak and were unable to pose a threat on Monday.

Roxana took a 3-2 lead over Chris Walleck’s 3-pointer, but Jersey took a 12-3 straight lead from Ayden Kanallakan and Trenton Decker midway through the first quarter. The Panthers’ lead was 18-8 after a quarter, and a 13-0 streak early in the second quarter lost the Shells 31-8.

It was 34-10 at halftime and another 18-2 Jersey run to open the third quarter had Roxana buried 52-11 and the fourth quarter brought a stopwatch. The Panthers had spent little time preparing for Roxana’s area, but that didn’t matter.

“We’ve been training for two weeks to get ready for a game, and especially when you’re leading the attack we’re leading you spend a lot of time on the men’s attack,” Jersey coach Stote Reeder said. “I would say 10%, maybe less, was spent on the zone offense. And I really think we performed well. We shared the ball, we moved, we put the ball in the paint, we weren’t satisfied with the 3 – we shot a lot – but we weren’t satisfied. I was really proud of it.

Sam Lamer scored 14 and Edward Roberts scored 12 to lead the Panthers, who rolled despite just 4 of 19 3-pointers and 1 of 5 free throws. Jersey, who shot 49% from the field, also got nine points from Logan Meisner, eight points from Decker and seven from freshman Jaxon Brunaugh.

It was a rough start for Roxana, who is in rebuild mode after dropping eight seniors who accounted for 938 of her 954 points in a shortened 11-8 spring season.

“Until you become a college player, you don’t realize the difference between college and JV is that you can’t take a break from just any game,” Briggs said. “Your legs are getting tired, you have to play with them. If you don’t play to the end, the guys reverse the shots and make you look bad on the other end of the court.

Among the graduates in 20201 is Gavin Huffman and his 1,680 career points who rank No. 2 all-time at Roxana behind the 2,067 in Hunter Reine. Drew Beckman scored 1,000 points and Parris White finished with 910 points. They too must be replaced.

“We have no returning starters, no ground experience,” said Briggs. “This is the fun part for me. Our coaching staff are enthusiastic about building a team from scratch. We start again. We have challenges and we recognize it. But we are excited about these.

Walleck, a sophomore, scored all eight points for his team in the first half for the Shells. Aidan Briggs, another soph and the coach’s son, scored seven points while matching Walleck with a pair of 3s.

Roxana’s roster includes just two seniors at Matthew Taylor and Nolan Tolbert and a junior at Ashton Noble. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Taylor and the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Noble start with sophomores Walleck, Briggs and Evan Wells.

“This sophomore group they’ve won throughout their time playing basketball,” said coach Briggs. “So they know how to win. We have two seniors and a junior. I have the impression that our strength is going to be our size. It’s a question of, how do we use our size?

“Our guards have to improve to get the ball into our big guys. Tonight, obviously, there was so much pressure on the perimeter – against guys who were better players – that we couldn’t put the ball where we wanted it.

Jersey pressure all over the field forced 17 Shells turnovers in the first half. Briggs, entering his 21st season as Roxana’s head coach, has 10 of 300 wins for his career. If that milestone doesn’t come before the 2022-2023 season, Briggs is willing to wait.

“I coached a 3-27 team, I coached 24-8,” said Briggs. “These are kids, when they come to the gym every day we’re going to give them the best of ourselves. We control two things, our attitude and our efforts. We talked about it again this evening. This is my expectation. If we do that, we will have good games throughout the year.

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