In the first half, both Harvest Christian and IMSA had a difficult time scoring, combining for only 30 points.
Then host IMSA came out of the intermission on fire, pulling away for a 47-25 victory in Northeastern Athletic Conference action. The win was the fourth straight for the Titans (6-8, 4-2), who have also won six of eight.
After the host Titans led 17-13 at the break, both teams came out struggling again offensively. Matt Moranz scored on a Greg O’Bannon feed three minutes into the second half that put IMSA up 20-16.
From that point, the basket got bigger for IMSA. O’Bannon, who had 11 of his 13 points in the second half, scored on a drive, followed by a foul-line jumper by Isaiah Butler. Moranz scored down low and Butler converted a three-point play after a 30-foot lob from O’Bannon on an inbounds play.
Buckets by O’Bannon and Butler capped a 17-point third quarter as the Titans doubled their first-half production and led 34-22.
“You try to light a fire under them and try to get them to come out with energy, and we did that in the third quarter,” IMSA coach Brad Snead said. “I was impressed with our defense in the fourth quarter, holding them to no field goals.”
The Lions (8-9, 2-5) continued to misfire in the fourth quarter, managing only three free throws against an effective IMSA zone defense.
Butler led IMSA with 19 points and 12 rebounds, right on his scoring average. Moranz chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds, and he made it difficult for the Lions to get points in the paint. Butler, O’Bannon and Moranz combined for all but three of the Titans’ points.
Snead noted that this is the first IMSA team since 2006 to win more than three games. The Titans have an important date at conference leader Mooseheart on Monday night.
“The kids play hard and respond well, so I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids,” said Snead.
Center John Vislisel led Harvest Christian with nine points.
“We had really good opportunities near the basket, but we could not make a bucket,” said Harvest Christian coach Jeff Boldog. “They (the Titans) had a great game plan, but we didn’t execute. Give IMSA credit. They’re a much improved team from last year.”