Donelson Christian Academy’s defense put on a clinic Nov. 26 and defeated Merrol Hyde 63-29.

After the Wildcats led 22-8 at the end of the first period, Donelson Christian gave up only one point throughout the entire second and compiled 12 turnovers in the first half.

Coming into the matchup, Merrol Hyde was held to less than 70 points once, but Donelson Christian held the Hawks to their season low by forcing turnovers and tough shots.

Donelson Christian head coach Nate Johnson knew guarding Merrol Hyde was going to be a challenge, but he was pleased with how his team stepped up on defense.

“They can really, really shoot it,” Johnson said. “Our guys have really gotten after it and have dedicated themselves to defense. So I could not be more proud of our team for the defensive effort they’re giving us right now.”

While turnovers have kept points off the board for their opponents, it has created easy opportunities on the other end for the offense.

“Our defense is causing us to have confidence on offense,” Johnson said. “We’re so aggressive on defense and causing turnovers, that when we get out, we’re getting easier shots on the other end. And that allows us to gain confidence with that.”

Junior point guard Ben Singer led the Wildcats in scoring with 23 points, 19 of which came in the first half.

“It starts with defense,” Singer said. “We’re really getting after it on defense. We get stops, and then we’re just pushing the ball. And we get it in transition, and people are running. And it’s just the flow.”

Singer and the Wildcats have managed to start the season forcing turnovers on defense and facilitating the ball well offensively, and Singer thinks a lot of that production stems from all the conditioning throughout the year.

“When you get tired, the first thing you lose is your focus. So you’ve got to be in shape and keep pushing and not lose focus and stay strong the whole game.

“We’ve been hitting the weights hard this year. We’re a lot stronger, a lot bigger, and yeah, that’s probably the main factor this year.”

Merrol Hyde head coach Kory Craighead was disappointed with the result after the game.

“Very tough game tonight,” Craighead said. “We didn’t quite execute the way we wanted to.”

Defensively, the Hawks held the Wildcats to 63 points, but the offense was not functioning like it had all season.

“We’ve scored over 70 in three of our first four games,” Craighead said. “And to have nine points at halftime is just inexcusable.”

In the past few games, the Hawks have shot the ball well, but they didn’t recreate that in the Donelson Christian matchup. Craighead felt like it may be a teaching moment for his team to get better ball movement.

“When you have a good shooting night, the ball doesn’t have to move as much, because everything is going in,” Craighead said. “We’ve kind of given warning of that, that some nights are going to be like tonight.

“And hopefully it’s going to be a learning experience to where we realize we have to run a really tight offense where all five guys are touching it to get consistently good looks.”

BOX SCORE

Donelson Christian (63): Ben Singer 23, Parker Howell 13, Blake Anderson 11, Jaden Carman 9, Riley Stanton 5, Joe Sims 2.

Merrol Hyde (29): Kolton Garuor 15, Isaac Stinson 8, Matthew Sykes 3, Asher Wolthers 3.

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