HOIC matchup between Titans and Minutemen

    Jack Weber and Aaron Steiner showed they are a dynamic duo for El Paso-Gridley thus far this season. On Friday night at The Fort, the Titans’ superheroes combined for 40 points in a 69-42 victory over host Lexington in a Heart of Illinois Conference boys’ basketball contest.
    “It was a good night for our inside guys,” EPG head coach Nathaniel Meiss said. “Aaron brings a lot of energy to our team, it’s kind of an irreplaceable energy.
    “Jack is very skilled. Tonight he was doing a nice job being aggressive. He can finish, he’s got really nice hands.”
    There appeared to be a bit of a battle between Steiner and Weber from the start. Weber went underneath for a reverse lay-in to open the scoring.
    The Minutemen got baskets from Tate Walcott and Konner Tolan to take a 4-2 lead, but Steiner tied it up with a basket in the paint to tie the game, and Weber scored on a drive to give the Titans the lead for good.
    When the opening period closed, Weber had 10 points and Steiner had eight as El Paso-Gridley built a 22-10 advantage.
    “We talked about coming out with a high level of intensity and maintaining it,” Meiss said. “I thought we did a nice job of coming out with a little fire and pushing the pace and playing unselfish basketball.”
    Both sides got going early, combining for 16 points in the first three minutes. The question was centered on which team could maintain the pace. It was EPG behind Weber and Steiner.
    The biggest factor might have been on the glass. The final tally read the Titans holding a 43-37 lead. But EPG was more in control of the boards during the first half as it produced a big lead.
    “We knew going in that we needed to box out every possession and we didn’t,” Lexington head coach Sam Williamson said. “They were finishing everything around the rim. When you give them three or four opportunities each possession they’re bound to finish one.”
    One such example was late in the first quarter. Steiner scored on a follow— the third EPG shot in the possession — and was fouled. He missed the free throw but the Titans got the rebound and the ball found its way to Weber, who scored for a four-point possession.
    El Paso-Gridley chalked up another four-point possession to open the second period. Hub Halvorsen scored for the Titans and a foul was called on Lexington’s Will White after the shot. This gave EPG the ball, which was turned into a four-point possession.
    Making matters worse for the Minutemen was the inability to get shots to through the basket.
    “We had layups that weren’t going, we were 0-7 from the free throw lone at halftime. That killed us,” Williamson said.
    Weber and Steiner kept up the domination inside by finishing the first half with 14 points apiece as the Titans led 39-19. The margin grew to 57-34 by the end of the third quarter.
    Steiner led the Titans (7-1, 4-0) with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Weber added 18 points while Noah Smith chipped in 8 markers. Teron Fairchild had 6 points while Shane Boyer added 4, Halvorsen threw in 3 and Dylan Smith, Dilynn Gray, Ryne Faulk and Corbin Heiken each had 2 points.
    Walcott paced Lexington (4-6, 0-4) with 17 points. Adam Baillie threw in 9 points with Tolan chalking up 6 markers and Josh Hardman and Andrew Olson checking in with 5 points apiece.