MOUNT ZION — Grant Coleman has a pure knack to score. Charleston learned that on Friday when the Mahomet-Seymour junior poured in a career-high 39 points. Mount Zion must not have gotten the memo on Tuesday, and Coleman made another Apollo Conference opponent pay yet again.
M-S flipped a 23-21 halftime lead into a 42-33 advantage heading into the third quarter because Coleman got white hot to start the second half.
Coleman scored the first 11 points of the third quarter, thanks to three deep triples, as M-S improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Apollo Conference play with a 56-44 victory over Mount Zion.
"You don't take a conference road win for granted," M-S coach Ryan Bosch said. "Those are two road wins that we didn't get last year, so it's good for us to get some confidence early in the season. It's going to be good to go home, I can tell you that."
Coleman finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-for-18 shooting. Mount Zion was physical with Coleman throughout the first half, but he was able to shake off a 1-for-6 start and got it rolling.
"(The hoop) looked pretty big," Coleman said. "My teammates were just getting me the ball, and I started hitting my open threes."
Coleman's third-quarter explosion was huge, and a late triple from Jack McHale with just two seconds left in the third frame gave M-S a nine-point lead heading into the final quarter.
M-S used a 12-5 run to open up a 16-point advantage late in the fourth quarter and Mount Zion wouldn't get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
"It energizes the bench; it energizes the guys," M-S coach Ryan Bosch said. "As Grant goes, a lot of times, we go. Friday was a perfect example of that. We go through these stretches where he struggles and we struggle. It's one of those things where we have to have a balancing act as the season goes along."
Connor Kamphaus continued to make his case for more playing time. The senior guard entered late in the first quarter and immediately drained an 18-foot pull-up jumper.
Kamphaus jabbed, stepped and splashed a long three to give M-S a 16-12 lead in the second quarter. Kamphaus finished with seven points, one rebound and one assist, while only missing one shot.
"I think he's had some good practices in a row," Bosch said. "Kind of getting some consistency pieces together. That's been so nice. Kinda had a decent game Friday night, and I think that gave him confidence. He's certainly energetic and tenacious for us off the bench. Connor probably deserved a little more run in the second half, but we got on a good defensive stretch."
But after Kamphaus' deep three, Mount Zion bullied the Bulldogs for a stretch in the second quarter.
Mount Zion junior guard Alex Barr hit a long three to finish off a 7-0 run which gave the Braves a 19-16 advantage.
"I thought our defense started out relatively poor," Bosch said. "We knew what their recipe to success was, and we showed the guys what they were going to do. To Mount Zion's credit, they came out and executed their stuff better than we executed our defensive game plan."
The Bulldogs were able to weather the storm, and they finished the half on a 7-2 run, as Kamphaus found Kobe Essien on a nice dish in transition.
Essien had all five of his points in the last couple minutes of the first half. Coleman added a smooth take to the cup, which helped the Bulldogs head into the break on a roll.
"I thought (Coleman) had a good game," Bosch said. "He's still got to show some patience and some trust in the offense. He's going to have a lot of nights where it feels like he can't move without bodies all over him."
Coleman's offensive show took the spotlight away from a much better defensive effort by the Bulldogs in the second half.
"We got better as the game went on," Bosch said. "Jordan (Veldman) was really responsible for showing the other guys. We could point out from the bench, 'Look how Jordan guards that, that's what we talked about.' He's a senior. He's got space recognition, knowing where the ball is, and his man. He kind of sees the play happening and knows how to blow it up. Jordan really set the template as the game went along about what our team defense needs to look like."
Cole Lener finished with seven points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Seniors Veldman and Dawson Finch both had two points. Veldman dished out a team-high four assists and had two steals. Lucas Turner also had six points and three rebounds off the bench.
"I think Lucas has handled that transition really well, as far as his attitude. Really pleased that he got to see the ball go through the net. He's worked really hard, and he's going to have an important role for us down the stretch. It's about making the most of your opportunities for him."
Barr led Mount Zion with 13 points.
It was the third win in a row for Bosch's crew. Despite an impressive 4-1 start, there's so much more room for this team to grow.
"We're a long ways away from a finished product," Bosch said. "We've got to get more used to playing with each other. We've got seniors and juniors that are mixed together that haven't played a lot together. It's a feeling-out process. They've got to trust the offense a little more."
M-S 81, Charleston 59. What shooting funk? After struggling to shoot an efficient level for the first couple games, Coleman erupted for a career-high 39 points as the Bulldogs ran away from Charleston by 22 points. Coleman drilled five-of-10 threes. He drained eight free throws and finished 13-for-25 from the field.
Coleman added a team-high 14 rebounds to go along with two assists and two blocks.
Essien added 12 points on just nine shots. Essien hauled in five rebounds and swiped two steals.
M-S jumped out to a 38-30 halftime lead and poured it on in the second half. The Bulldogs scored over 20 points in the first, third and fourth quarters.Veldman chipped in nine points and four assists. Lener continued to play efficient basketball, finishing with seven points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Kamphaus had six points, while Turner and Finch each had four points. Turner had four rebounds, one block and one steal. Finch dished out three assists.
The Bulldogs will play at Normal University High on Tuesday. Junior varsity play will begin at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow about 7:30. On Saturday, M-S will host Dunlap. Junior varsity action will get going at 5 p.m. Tipoff for varsity is scheduled for 6:30.