Updated: Chieftains fall to Tigers 77-43 in opener

DOWAGIAC — There are some who may question the wisdom of putting area powerhouse Benton Harbor at the top of your schedule.

But for former Tiger and current Dowagiac coach Danum Hunt, the move was calculated.

Benton Harbor was a state semifinalist last season and has one of the top players in the state in sophomore power forward Carlos Johnson.

The Chieftains are coming off a 10-11 season and have some new faces in the lineup.

The Tigers proved that they are once again one of the top teams in Class B as they raced out to a 14-0 lead on Dowagiac and rolled to an easy 77-43 victory Tuesday night.

“We are young and there is a lot of work we still have to do,” Hunt said. “One of the reasons why I put this game at the top of the schedule is because it gives us an opportunity to use it as a measuring stick. Here you have one of the best teams in the state that has been to the state finals three out of the last five years.

“You bring them in and kind of get you some work to see where you are. I learned there is some work to do and I also got the opportunity to see that there are some people sitting a little ways down the bench that should be playing. I learned a lot about my team and some of the things we need to work on.”

Dowagiac will only have two days to prepare for its Wolverine Conference opener.

The Chieftains head to Otsego to take on a Bulldogs team that was 11-11 last season and graduated seven seniors.

Hunt said he does not think Dowagiac will see a team like Benton Harbor anywhere in the Wolverine Conference.

He said that his team must cut down on turnovers and doing a better job of boxing out when rebounding.

“They (Benton Harbor) destroyed us on the boards due to our lack of boxing out,” he said. “Even though they had the size advantage, if you box out you can rebound. That is something we have to learn to do collectively. They were sending more guys to the boards at a time than we were. We also have to work on not being in a hurry. We need to be patient and making the passes we need to make. We need to execute better on offense. If we can improve on those things I think we will be fine.”

Johnson, who is 6-foot-6, scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Tigers.

Benton Harbor (1-0) also got 20 points, nine rebounds and four blocks from Shawn Hopkins.

Trailing 14-0, senior Jamin Hunt hit a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining in the opening quarter to get the Chieftains on the board.

The Tigers went on to outscore Dowagiac 24-8 in the opening eight minutes and never looked back.

Benton Harbor led 40-16 at halftime and 58-27 heading into the final quarter.

The Chieftains were led by Caleb Murphy’s 12 points off the bench.

Dowagiac heads to Otsego to open up its Wolverine Conference schedule Friday night.

BENTON HARBOR 77, DOWAGIAC 43

At Dowagiac

BENTON HARBOR 77

Devan Nichols 8, Elijah Baxter 4, Dennie Brown 10, Shawn Hopkins 20, Carlos Johnson 23, Jamon Walker 5, Corey Dorris 6, Lance Brown 0, Chris Kyles 2, Chris Conway 0, Miles Wilson 0. TOTALS: 34 6-9 77.

DOWAGIAC 43

Andrew McIntosh 0, Shaquan Stanback 3, Logan Thies 0, D.J. Lanier 7, Trae Brookins 6, Keith Kidd 0, Kris Horton 0, J.J. Smith 0, James Merchant 9, Jamin Hunt 6, Jalen King 0, Donovan Sullivan 0, Caleb Murphy 12. TOTALS: 18 2-2 43.

Benton Harbor 24 40 58 77

Dowagiac 8 16 27 43

3-point baskets: Benton Harbor 3 (Baxter 2, Walker), Dowagiac 5 (Stanback, Lanier, Merchant, Hunt 2). Total fouls (fouled out): Benton Harbor 11 (none), Dowagiac 6 (none). Varsity records: Benton Harbor 1-0, Dowagiac 0-1.

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