MONMOUTH — Mt. Abram forward Nate Luce’s shots started falling early, and that helped the Roadrunners overcome a three-point second quarter and lock down a 67-56 victory over Monmouth Academy in a Mountain Valley Conference boys basketball game on Monday.

Luce piled up a game-high 30 points.

The long bus ride from Salem to Monmouth didn’t have much of an impact on the revved-up Roadrunners.

“I think we’ve all been thinking and working hard since that Thursday night last week,” Mt. Abram coach Dustin Zamboni said. “We had a win versus Winthrop right in the grass, and we let it slide.

“We felt like we had a win and it slipped out of our grasp on the last possession. They took care of business today.”

Some of the shots he made baffled even Luce, who once threw up a shot as he raced past the glass. The ball bounced off the backboard for two points. His turn-around jump shot also was on.

“It was just one of those nights,” the Mt. Abram senior said. “I was working hard. We were running the offense well. We were executing, getting the ball to me, and I was just feeling it. Everything was working for us. We were in rhythm all game.”

“Some of the shots I can’t believe were flying off and he is knocking them down,” Zamboni said. 

The Roadrunners came right at the Mustangs with intensity at outset of the game. Luce reeled off 12 of his 30 points in the first half and knocked down two of his four 3-pointers. 

Junior guard Hunter Warren, who hounded the Mustangs all night on defense, threw in eight of his 17 points. With the backing of Luce and Warren, the Roadrunners jumped out to a 25-10 lead.

That 15-point lead came in handy in the second half for the Roadrunners, whose offense seemed to dry up. They scored when Adam Luce (nine points) nailed a 3-pointer with five seconds left in the first half, leaving both teams tied at 28 apiece at halftime.

“I had a couple of a quick fouls and had to come out,” Nathan Luce said. “I think the crowd got to a us a little, but we came out of the half and we were a little more prepared for them.

“We didn’t think they were going to go on a run like that. We didn’t think they would come back swinging after that. We recovered.”

The Roadrunners got back to business in the third quarter and hammered out a 48-41 lead.

The Mustangs never ran out of tenacity and harassed the Roadrunners until the final buzzer. Senior forward Brock Bates scored a team-high 25 points and senior guard Gabe Martin delivered 24 points. Both players threw in three 3-pointers apiece.

“To be honest with you, we didn’t play very well at all,” Monmouth coach Wade Morrill said. “I was very disappointed with our team’s effort. Disappointed with our team’s execution. We let the Luce kid score 30 points in our gym, and a lot of those are on fairly wide-open jump shots with guys four, five feet away. That’s a lot of space.

“Credit Mt. Abram. They came ready to play in the first quarter. You saw it.  Mt. Abram drove two hours, and they came out with more intensity than we did, and that is a bad sign for a senior-led team.”


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