After catching a feed into the post, Matt Schiller will often make a quick pivot before zipping a pass out to an open shooter on the perimeter.
Told the Linganore senior may be one of the area’s best passers in the post earlier this season, Lancers coach Chris O’Connor said, “I wish he would shoot the ball more.”
Schiller said he has heard those words from O’Connor during most of his team’s practices this season.
“He says, ‘You know nobody can stop you, right?’” Schiller said.
Schiller spent much of Linganore’s home game against Tuscarora on Wednesday doing exactly what O’Connor asked of him, scoring eight of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter of the Lancers’ 50-39 victory.
“During practice, I’ve been starting to get more aggressive and putting up more shots,” Schiller said. “It’s definitely translated from practice into the game.”
Schiller almost single-handedly stopped a strong Titans attempt to steal a victory on the road as Tuscarora sliced a 10-point halftime deficit down to two on a layup by Xavier Chase with 6 minutes, 52 seconds remaining. Then Schiller went to work in the low post, scoring four baskets inside of 5 feet over a four-minute stretch as the Lancers (7-2, 4-0 CMC Spires Division) pushed their lead to 13.
Twice, Schiller leaned on a baby hook shot that he’d been perfecting during practice while working with assistant coach Jordan Dixon.
“The light has gone off that he’s 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, and he has a great touch,” O’Connor said. “I’m good that he likes to pass the ball, but we’ve been on him in practice. You’re 2 feet away from the basket, so put the ball in the hoop.”
Schiller also swatted two shots in the fourth quarter on drives to the basket, and he said he fed off the energy fellow post player Cole Mitchell provided late in the third quarter by faking a defender off his feet near the free-throw line and then rumbling to the basket for a dunk.
“It sparked the whole team,” Schiller said. “When he went up for it, I was jumping out of my seat.”
The Lancers have several players who can shoot well from beyond the arc, but on a day where neither team shot the ball well from the perimeter, Linganore sorely needed big contributions in the paint from Schiller and Mitchell, who scored five points.
Lately, the Lancers have tried to take advantage of the length of players such as Schiller, Mitchell, Sean Lang and Chase Maddox by playing a 2-3 zone defense. At times, Tuscarora (4-3, 1-2) did well to find open shots against the zone as Chase kicked the ball out to open shooters after receiving passes in the paint while guard James Quinn created easy layups for teammates off penetration. But the Titans shot just 26 percent from the field.
Chase finished 12 points while Malik Witherspoon scored eight points in his first start.
“We’re going to be back in the lab, we’re going to continue to watch film, we’ll continue to make some adjustments, and we’ll be fine,” Tuscarora coach Darryl Whiten said.
Linganore defeated Tuscarora 47-44 in the JV game, getting 11 points from Andrew Young and 10 from Cole Stansbury. Latrell Mark and Jordan Chaney scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Titans.