FARMINGTON — Lanky Zac Koban didn’t appear to be excited with his game-high 22 points that led Mt. Blue to 63-45 victory over Erskine Academy in a Class A boys basketball game Thursday night.

“It was just how the offense worked tonight,” the modest Koban said. “The guards drive in and dish it to the big man — and I was there most of the time. But tonight, especially, I was just the one that was there most of the time.”

Koban didn’t think any of his baskets were dramatic and added that: “It was mostly just layups and I made them.”

“What makes (Koban) such a great player is his hands,” Mt. Blue coach Troy Norton said. “A lot of those passes were not easy catches, but he has great hands so he can catch and he goes up quick and finishes. So he just played a great game tonight.”

By the time Mt. Blue and Erskine Academy stepped on the court, COVID-19 had sidelined several key players for both teams Thursday night.

Mt. Blue was missing one of its key players — Chandler Briggs — and Erskine was down seven key athletes. But the Eagles (0-7) and Cougars (4-4) soldiered on regardless.

“I thought we battled hard tonight,” Erskine coach Tim Bonsant said. “They (Mt. Blue) are a very good team. They are super athletic and they are going to be a fun team to watch in the tournament.

“I had a couple of freshman and a couple of sophomores out there. We are all going to have COVID issues and other issues. That is a nice little team. Coach Norton does a very good job with his guys and they made some shots and got some steals. They hustle a lot.”

Norton also admitted the chaos COVID caused on the matchup.

“Erskine was very shorthanded and we were a little bit shorthanded,” Norton said. “We were missing one of our better players. But the (Eagles) played hard and Erskine is always going to play hard.

“Coach Bonsant is a great coach, so (the Eagles) gave it everything they had. But it was a good opportunity for us to work on some things and get a lot of kids playing time that don’t always get a chance to play. It was a good team effort and we got Brewer on Saturday.”

The first quarter was a silent affair for the first three minutes before sophomore Evans Sterling (10 points) scored the first basket of the game and suddenly inspired the Cougars.

Koban opened up the Cougars’ first-quarter lead with eight straight points and helped give Mt. Blue a 13-5 advantage going into the second quarter.

But Sterling was just getting started and really put on a show with a key 3-point play and dazzled the small crowd with a behind-the-back pass to Koban for two points. Sterling scored eight points in the first half and Koban ended up with 12.

“(Sterling) is a special player,” Norton said. “Tonight, he didn’t get a ton of chances because of the game, but he’s a sophomore and he’s just scratching the surface.”

By the time the second quarter ended, the Cougars held the Eagles to just nine points and were sitting pretty with 35-9 lead heading into the second half.

Sterling and Koban began working the inside of the key again, with Sterling faking out an opponent and sending the ball over Koban for the two points underneath the basket.

Nate Robinson had 10 points for Erskine.

“So we have had a good start to the season,” Norton said. “We’ve got to get that big win. We’ve got to get a breakout win where we beat one of the better teams. We are playing well, but we need to take it to that next level.”

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