By Jordan Miller
MALVERN – It was an electric night in the new Malvern gym Dec. 2 when the Hornets routed the Conotton Valley Rockets on opening night.
The Hornets tipped off the season with a dominating 84-51 win over the Rockets.
Malvern senior Jaret Majestic and junior Mark Mayle played a huge role in the Hornets’ success. Mayle recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Majestic dropped 21 points and recorded eight boards.
“Jaret and Mark have worked extremely hard this off-season to improve individually,” said Malvern Coach Dennis Tucci. “They are both basketball junkies. I thought Jaret struggled a little with his shot, but he had a good all-around game.”
Majestic wasted no time getting the Hornets on the board as he sank a corner three-point shot to give his team a 3-0 lead.
Conotton Valley senior Brett Bower and sophomore Dustin Willoughby gave the Rockets a 4-3 lead with a pair of buckets. Malvern’s Jacob Moser drove the lane for a lay up to put the Hornets back on top 5-4.
Later in the quarter, Majestic sank another three and got a bucket, putting his team up 10-6.
Mayle got on the board for the Hornets with a shot in the paint. Junior point guard Drew Majestic found Jaret Majestic open and dished the ball to him for a bucket, extending Malvern’s lead to 14-6.
Bower put an end to the run with a jump shot for the Rockets, closing the deficit to 14-8.
Malvern’s Jack Naiman sank a three-pointer, but not without Bower matching it on the Rockets’ next possession.
Mayle drew a trip to the free throw line, making both shots.
Conotton Valley senior Garett Rice made a layup to end the opening quarter, making the score 19-13 in Malvern’s favor.
Willoughby pulled the Rockets within four, scoring in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
Majestic returned the favor as he drove the lane and scored while drawing a foul for a chance to convert a one-and-one, which he did, giving Malvern a 22-15 lead.
Bower drew a foul, making one shot and the Rockets trailed 22-16.
Mayle caught a pass under the basket and slammed it through the rim. A few minutes later, Mayle dunked it again to give the winners a 30-16 lead.
Bower ended Malvern’s 14-0 run with a layup, making the score 33-18.
Moser and Majestic combined for six points to end the second period and gave the Hornets a 39-18 lead into the break.
The Rockets struck first in the third quarter on a Rice layup.
Malvern’s Brandon Patterson hit a three followed by a pair of second-chance points by Mayle and a two-point shot by Majestic as the Hornets extended their lead to 44-20.
Bower sank a three for Conotton Valley but Mayle answered with an in-the-paint shot.
Majestic made a pair of free throws, increasing Malvern’s lead to 50-23. The Hornets outscored the Rockets 11-8 in the remainder of the quarter to lead 61-31 entering the final quarter.
The Hornets went on to score 23 more points in the final quarter as they held the Rockets to 20 points.
“I liked the fact that he (Jaret) got 8 rebounds. He also did very well on the defensive end,” Coach Tucci said.
“Mark simply dominated in the paint on both ends of the floor. We had a mismatch there and Mark took advantage of it,” said Tucci. “Mark also sparkled in the open floor as he has worked on his ball handling this fall.”
Bower led all scorers with 33 points, including four three-pointers. He also pulled down seven rebounds.
Moser finished with 14 points for the Hornets. Hutchison recorded 11 points for the winners. Naiman added six points, Christian Grimm tacked on four points, Patterson and Sam Earl had three points each and Jordan Browning accounted for two points for the Hornets.
Willoughby added nine points for the Rockets. Rice finished with eight and Miguel Congost tacked on one point.
Malvern committed six turnovers while forcing 14 Conotton Valley turnovers.
Malvern finished 16-20 (80%) at the foul line. Conotton Valley went 6-12 (50%) at the line.
Each team finished with 29 rebounds on the night.
Malvern improves to 1-0 on the season and the Rockets drop to 0-1.
The Hornets were scheduled to travel to Tuscarawas Central Catholic Dec. 6. They will host the Strasburg Tigers Dec. 9. JV begins at 6 p.m. followed by varsity.