COAL CITY – A coach always is looking for ways his or her team can improve. Seneca boys basketball coach Russ Witte is no exception.
Even though his Fighting Irish entered Saturday night’s game in the Interstate Eight Conference Tournament with a 14-3 record and the top seed, Witte knew his team could be better.
After Saturday night’s 57-37 dismantling of Plano, however, he might have to look harder for flaws.
The Fighting Irish were strong from the start, both on offense and defense. The offense was customary. The defense, not so much.
“We have been waiting for that,” Witte said. “By that, I mean the defensive intensity. Our offense has been solid all year, but we have struggled to stop people. These kids want to get out and score, but sometimes they forget what Seneca basketball is all about.
“Tonight, we brought the defensive intensity, and that was real nice to see.”
The Irish forced eight turnovers in the first quarter, overcoming an early 4-0 deficit to take an 18-9 lead after the first quarter, and never looked back.
Conlan Callahan and Carter Gallick each hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening eight minutes for the Irish as they worked their offense to near perfection. Gallick stayed hot all game, leading all scorers with 20 points, while Callahan scored 12 and Alex Bott finished with 10 for Seneca.
“I have been shooting well lately,” Gallick said. “My teammates have been finding me when I have been open and I have been making my shots. We knew Plano was a tough team, so we had to play with a lot of intensity.”
Gallick was 6 for 10 from 3-point range.
“A lot of teams come into games knowing they have to stop Callahan,” Witte said. “But we have a lot more weapons than that. When Carter is shooting like he was tonight, we are awfully hard to beat.”
The Irish built a 33-20 lead at halftime, and increased that to 48-30 by the end of the third quarter. Fittingly, a Gallick 3-pointer put the lead above 20 at 51-30 to start the fourth quarter, and the Irish were able to play keep away effectively the rest of the way.
“All around, this was a very good game for us,” Witte said. “When our bigs get in foul trouble, sometimes we struggle. But tonight, Devin Leo did a good job for us with his motor and Ross McCormick, a sophomore guard, came in and gave us some good minutes. Defensively, we did a good job on [Plano’s Udochkwu] Agomo. He got loose a couple times, but for the most part we did a good job with him.”