One week made a big difference for the Dreher boys basketball team.
The Blue Devils suffered a two-point loss to Columbia last Friday, but they used a strong defensive effort to claim a 58-45 victory in the rematch Friday night.
Tevin Mack scored 18 points, DeAndre Nathaniel added 15 and both were pivotal in different stretches in the double-digit win.
“All week in practice we were talking about that loss and what we had to do to play better,” Dreher coach Jeff DiBattisto said. “We scouted these guys all week after that loss last Friday, and we knew who we had to key on and we did a very good job with that.”
Dreher was playing with a short bench because of a starter who was recovering from concussion-like symptoms, but that never bothered them. Nathaniel scored 11 points in the first half, but it was the supporting cast that was key during a 14-3 run to end the half.
The two teams traded 12-2 runs and were tied at 14 with 6:30 remaining in the first half when the Blue Devils took charge. John Myers started things by making three free throws — the final two after the Capitals were whistled for an intentional foul on a breakaway. Nathaniel scored on layup, and when he missed the free throw to try and convert an old-fashioned 3-point play, Dreher (5-1) rebounded the miss and Isaiah Drayton drilled a 3-pointer to make it a seven-point possession and increase the lead to 22-14. That was as close as it would be the rest of the way.
“We got some stops we needed to defensively during that stretch,” DiBattisto said.
Terry House tried to keep Columbia (3-2) close with his 19 points, but the Capitals were not as crisp offensively as they were a week ago.
“He’s not afraid to shoot,” Columbia coach Mark Kirlough said of House. “He gets a little loose with the ball sometimes and we have to tighten that up, but he can fill it up when he gets hot. Offensively, we weren’t as smooth. We didn’t lock them up at the other end, and because of that, we never sustained any momentum.”
Mack, the highly-touted 6-foot-5 guard, scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to allow Dreher to maintain the comfortable lead. Mack scored 11 of his points during a five-minute stretch that closed the third quarter and opened the fourth. His rebound stick-back with 4:17 remaining gave the Blue Devils their largest lead at 50-34.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell was in attendance to watch Mack, and he saw him go 6-of-17 from the field with nine rebounds and three blocks.
“It’s tough because he’s the target every night, but he’s been unselfish and he gets his points when they come,” DiBattisto said. “We’re working with him staying patient even when things aren’t going his way, and he really helped us in the second half.”
After having a week off, the contest with Columbia started a stretch of three games in four days for Dreher. They play Cardinal Newman in the Bojangles Bash at Ridge View on Saturday before taking on Keenan on Monday.
“It’s a short turnaround but we have to get the guys focused and ready to play three pretty good teams in a row,” DiBattisto said.