Loy Norrix came to Sturgis Saturday with a specific defensive plan in mind. It was a gross miscalculation.
A box-and-one zone designed to focus on Sturgis’ Jack Scheske left senior star Chance Stewart feeling like he was the only person in the gym, and he punished Loy Norrix for a single-game school-record 43 points in a 52-44 victory.
And when some pressure was applied, the Trojans were able to screen Stewart free to pass former record holder Rob Sisson, who registered 42 points for SHS as a senior in 1978.
Sturgis (12-6, 7-6 SMAC East) needed every point after entering halftime down 20-14.
“We just were out of sync and out of rhythm early,” Trojans coach Keith Kurowski said. “I think we just got a little too complacent. We had a little bit of a hangover from that win last night against Lakeview.
“We came out lethargic and slow-footed and had a lot of costly mistakes early on. We just never got our rhythm or flow offensively in that first half. Fortunately we played decent defense so that it was only a six-point game at halftime.”
Stewart had all 14 of the team’s points through the first two quarters but wasn’t really in a groove. Teammate Andrew Airgood came out in the third quarter and drained a pair of 3-pointers that seemed to put the team at ease once the game was tied up.
“The team was really sluggish,” Stewart said. “Then we came out in the third quarter and just lit it up. Andrew and I just couldn’t miss in the third quarter. Andrew really kind of sparked us in the third quarter. After that I just kind of took over and put the game out of reach.”
Shooting 70.6-percent from the field, Stewart knocked down 12 of his 17 shot attempts, including 3 of 4 from behind the 3-point line. A 16-for-17 effort at the free throw line is what put him over the top.
Loy Norrix, which slipped to 6-12 overall and 4-9 in divisional play, shot just 21.2 percent (11-for-52) from the field.
Kurowski couldn’t overstate how impactful Airgood’s triples were when the Trojans were trying to pull out of an offensive funk. But he certainly wasn’t surprised by what followed.
“From there it was the Chance Stewart show,” Kurowski said. “Chance just took off into another gear and it was the best he’s shot from the outside all year. That’s how he was basically able to double up his average. He really started to heat up from the outside of the perimeter. We ran him off of baseline screens against the box-and-one and he was able to get loose. We set some really good screens for him and he came off the baseline and nailed three or four in a row in the third quarter.”
To Loy Norrix’ s credit, the defensive approach did slow Scheske down to the tune of only two points, though the junior certainly contributed in a myriad other ways (seven rebounds, four assists and a steal). Tristen Stewart added the other point to go with four rebounds and five assists.
“My 3s that I hit, I was wide open,” Chance Stewart said. “There was no one on me; it’s amazing how open I was. I knew if I was going to do it I was going to have to be really good from the free throw line. Tonight I only missed one free throw. It was just one of those nights I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”