WEST UNION - After a solid showing at the McDonald's Classic, a letdown was possible for West Union when Bethel-Tate came to town Tuesday night.
Elijah McCarty and Garrett Vogler had other ideas.
The two combined to score 52 points as the Dragons (6-3) rolled over the Tigers, 75-47, for their third straight victory.
"I told the guys we needed to come out and play intense, if you don't play intense tonight it could be one of those nights where you come out of here with an L," Dragons coach Greg Himes said. "We wanted to start the New Year out right and get the win here."
The Dragons claimed their first McDonald's Classic since 2006 when they knocked off North Adams Saturday night. In front of bigger crowds and a lot of emotion, Tuesday had the makings of a smaller crowd and an out of conference opponent, one that might be harder to get up playing for emotionally.
But McCarty (30 points) and Vogler (22 points) were the aggressors early and often and throughout the contest.
West Union’s Elijah McCarty knocks down the trey. Dragons 11-9, 3:50, 1Q: pic.twitter.com/8iyFXoXVlR— Evan Dennison (@EvanDennison1) January 3, 2018
"We definitely pushed the ball up the court like we needed to," McCarty said. "We didn't read into all the hype, we're still West Union basketball and normally bad and just need to keep showing people different."
The two combined to score 17 of the 19 Dragon first quarter points as they took a 19-13 lead into the second.
Garrett Vogler beats the first quarter buzzer with a triple. West Union leads Bethel-Tate 19-13 after a quarter of play. Vogler and McCarty combined for 17 of the 19 in the frame: pic.twitter.com/B7O0hXHP2t— Evan Dennison (@EvanDennison1) January 3, 2018
"Those two really came out tonight and played well and really showed that senior leadership," Himes said.
McCarty continued to pour it on in the second, scoring six points, the last two giving the Dragons their biggest lead of the half at 36-21.
Bethel-Tate closed with the final four points of the half to make it 36-25 at the break.
Hitting a cold spell in the third in which the Tigers got within seven on numerous occasions, it was McCarty again continuing to carry the scoring load, dropping eight more points in the frame as Bethel couldn't capitalize on the lackluster Dragons frame, heading to the fourth, trailing 52-43.
Then the Dragons "Gold Rush" defense stamped its mark on the game in the fourth as West Union forced three turnovers in the first minute that led to Dragon layups, pushing West Union out to a 58-43 advantage.
"Our "gold rush" really picks us up offensively a lot. In the McDonald's Classic it did a lot. We know not always we're going to get it done on the offensive end, but the defensive end we try and get it done there. I learned that press from a great guy in Kelly Wells at Mason County and we try to use it here and it's helped put us in a frenzy," Himes said.
The pressure defense continued and the lead kept swelling, getting to as big as 29 as McCarty's last two points went for a career-high 30 for him, adding 11 rebounds as well in the Dragon victory.
"I've never had a winning record in my career here. This is definitely different and I like it," McCarty said. "I've never been a basketball guy, it's always been golf so being good at this is crazy. Career high and my first double-double."
Now comes the meat of the Dragons schedule in which their next three contests will play a big part in determining who might have the upper-hand in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play, squaring up with North Adams, Eastern Brown and Lynchburg-Clay over the next 13 days.
"We were picked last in the big school division in the SHAC and told the guys we need to keep focused to continue to work harder. McDonald's Classic was one of the things we wanted, now we need to start working on the SHAC and working toward late February and March. It will be here before you know it and we're getting ready to run the gauntlet in the SHAC. Every night is a tough night in the SHAC, no matter who you're playing," Himes said.
The Dragons outrebounded the Tigers 40-31 and won the turnover battle 18-10. They were also efficient from the free throw line, going 10-of-13.
The Tigers were led by Jake Collins' 16 points while Jacob Reinhart delivered a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.