Hornets hold on to unblemished record

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CCM/Carol McIntire Hornet Jared Witherow (22) looks to deny the shot of Gage Moore during a Dec. 22 contest at Malvern.

By Carol McIntire
Malvern found itself in unfamiliar territory in the early going of an Inter Valley Conference North matchup with the Strasburg Tigers Dec. 23.
For only the second time this season, the host Hornets found themselves trailing in the first quarter. The situation didn’t last long though as Malvern erased a 10-7 deficit at the 3:07 mark of the first quarter and cruised to a 73-30 win over the Tigers. Malvern remains unbeaten with the win while the Tigers dropped to 3-3.
J’Allen Barrino scored nine of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter after scoring Malvern’s first points of the game with two steals he turned into layups and a foul shot. The 6-3 senior guard was in a steal-and-score rhythm which he capped off in the third quarter with a steal and dunk at the other end of court to the pleasure of the crowd.
Strasburg played the first six minutes of the second quarter without scoring a point due to Malvern’s full-court pressure defense. Gage Moore, who ended the night with eight points, sank a field goal at the 2:39 mark and a bucket from the top of key for the Tigers’ only points of the quarter. Barrino put an exclamation mark on Malvern’s 24-point quarter with a steal and layup to give his team a 40-16 lead at intermission.
“Strasburg came out strong and had us on our heels for a little while,” commented Malvern Coach Dennis Tucci. “J’Allen settled us down, and the boys stepped up the pressure, and we were able to build a sizable lead.” 
Malvern stretched the gap to 65-26 after three quarters and outscored Strasburg 8-4 over the final stanza.
Ten Hornets put points on the board. Mitchell Minor and Eric Swain also scored in double figures. Minor sank two 3-point shots and added two field goals for 12 points. Swain swished three shots from beyond the 3-point arc and added a field goal for 11 points. Rodney Smith hit one 3-pointer and ended the game with eight points. Drake Hutchison added seven points.
Malvern held a commanding lead on the boards, 27-16, with Minor and Jared Witherow sharing top honors with six each. Moore grabbed five to lead Strasburg.
Tucci had words of praise for his team.
“J’Allen had a big game. He seemed to be everywhere! His steal and dunk was definitely a highlight.  Eric, Drake and Rodney also had big games. Mitch showed me something because he sprained his ankle at practice Thursday, yet he toughed it out and had points and led us in rebounding.” 
Malvern’s pressure defense forced the visitors to commit 20 turnovers, most of which were turned into points, while limiting the team’s own miscues to eight. Each team committed 12 fouls.
The winners connected on 29 of 50 shots from the field for 58 percent compared to 11 of 30 for Strasburg for 37 percent. Both teams showed above 50 percent from the foul line: Malvern 75 percent (9-12) and Strasburg 60 percent (6-10).
Strasburg won the junior varsity game 30-24.

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