By Tom Schultz For the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — ERIE, Ill. — The Fulton Steamers rained down early 3-pointers against Erie on Friday night, as they rode the hot hands to their sixth consecutive win, 62-49. Fulton even worked in a new defense against the Cardinals, and can now turn its focus to the West Carroll Holiday Tournament.
Junior guard Zach Barber hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter. The Steamers built off Barber’s hot hand with solid post play in the first quarter from senior big man Jake Willging.
Aggressive trips to the basket for the Steamers got them a lot of looks inside, helping them establish their presence in the paint. When Erie's defense started collapsing around the basket, it opened up the perimeter.
Barber — along with junior Kyle Huebner — made the Cardinals pay early for giving them enough room for the open looks.
“It felt great, but I have to give a lot of credit to Seth Sanderson," Huebner said. "He dished out about 10 assists tonight. Without him we wouldn’t have gotten the shots we did.”
Sanderson found his teammates on open looks, and his fellow Steamers executed. After a close first quarter, he was the force that pulled Fulton out of the Cardinals' reach.
“Hueby (Huebner) and Zach were both running the floor really good," Sanderson said. "I just had to get it up to them and they were stroking it. Made it easy on me.”
Fulton coach RJ Coffey said: “Seth Sanderson did a phenomenal job tonight. He was doing a great job of pushing the pace, playing fast. He was finding open guys everywhere.”
As Fulton built the lead after halftime, it began driving to the basket more, trying to add another facet to the offense than just the shots from distance.
In the third quarter, Sanderson went coast-to-coast on back-to-back plays, continuing to increase Fulton's margin. The Steamers finished the quarter with a 48-33 lead.
They then pushed that lead up over 20 in the fourth, thanks to the turnovers they created on defense. Coffey said he's been working with the Steamers in practice on different zone defenses that the Steamers showcased against Erie.
Those zones baffled the Cardinals, forcing them to make bad passes and putting the Steamers in prime position to get into the passing lanes for transition points.
Fulton has its biggest challenge yet, today, in the first game of the West Carroll Holiday Tournament. The Steamers will play the Dixon Dukes.
FULTON 62, ERIE 49
FULTON (5-0) – Matt Dail 4 0-0 9, Jake Willging 3 1-1 7, Zach Barber 8 2-2 23, Seth Sanderson 3 0-0 6, Jason Osbourn 1 0-0 3, Kyle Huebner 6 0-2 16. Totals 24 3-5 62.
ERIE – Kuhnen 1 1-2 3, Wildt 3 3-4 10, Maloney 2 4-6 8, Cole 8 1-2 17, McConnell 2 0-0 4, Bram 2 0-0 4. Totals 18 12-18 49.
Fulton 19 21 8 14 – 62
Erie 15 11 7 16 – 49
3-point goals — Fulton 11 (Dail, Barber 5, Huebner 4, Osbourn), Erie 1 (Wildt). Total fouls – Fulton 18, Erie 14. Fouled out – None.