FLANAGAN — Assigned to guard a 25-point-per-game man, Jacob Donaldson didn’t let that stop him from scoring himself.
The 6-foot-2 senior provided the Ridgeview High School basketball team with 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 55-37 victory over Flanagan-Cornell in Heart of Illinois Conference action on Tuesday.
“He’s got a motor that doesn’t quit,” said Flanagan-Cornell coach Brian Yoder after watching Donaldson sink 9 of 17 shots from the field. “He gets great position on offense. Even if he misses, he’s right back there to grab it. He gets off the floor so quick for a big guy.”
Flanagan-Cornell’s go-to-guy, Jeremy Durdan, who came in averaging 25 points, was guarded by Donaldson, but managed 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.
“Our plan was to put one of our best defenders on him,” said Ridgeview coach Rodney Kellar, who earned his 600th win. “(Donaldson) has had a double-double just about every night. We’ve got to feed Jacob until he’s full. That’s our mindset.
“This is a little bit different team for us compared to the shooters we’ve had in the past. I feel confident we’re going to be a better shooting team as the season goes on.”
Ridgeview shot a modest .368 from the field, but it didn’t matter because it held its host to .326.
Normal Community transfer Justin Myers added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Mustangs, who improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the HOIC while the senior-less Falcons dropped to 3-3 and 0-2. Flanagan-Cornell lost an earlier meeting with Ridgeview, 65-44.
The Mustangs forced 20 turnovers and committed just nine.
“It started on the defensive end,” Kellar said. “Any time you can create some easy baskets, which our defense did on occasion, that helps out.”
Ridgeview opened with a 7-0 run, but the hosts answered with a 7-0 surge. A 3-pointer by Matt Nunamaker, who finished with eight points, put the Mustangs ahead to stay at 10-7.
“I thought our focus from the start was good and I thought our fight throughout the game was good,” Kellar said. “Flanagan fought us and I thought we did a good job finishing.”
The gap was 16-9 after one quarter and 29-17 after two. Ridgeview ended the first half on a 6-0 run that featured a steal and layup by Levi Zimmerman, an inside hoop by Donaldson and a fastbreak layup by Myers.
“Their defensive pressure, it’s hard for us to handle with young guards,” Yoder said. “They are getting better, but they’ve got a ways to go.”
The Mustangs stretched the lead to 40-23 in the third quarter only to have the hosts close within 40-29 with 1:59 left in the period. Two points in the paint from Nunamaker stopped the bleeding. An 11-2 Ridgeview run in the fourth quarter ended the suspense.
Falcon guard Andrew Kozak, a speedy slasher, had 10 points and five rebounds while 6-4 teammate Carson Kimpling added eight points and six boards.
“He’s worked really hard in the gym,” Yoder said of Kozak. “He’s getting smarter and he can shoot the basketball. He’s really athletic. You can’t teach that.”