BELLVILLE -- Lexington had nine players in double digits Friday night in a 51-25 season-opening basketball win at Clear Fork.
Double digits in minutes played, that is, a depth factor that brought a smile to the face of coach Scott Hamilton.
"(Depth) is going to be key," said Hamilton, whose team returns all five starters from a year ago, when the Minutemen were an uncharacteristic 4-13 during a COVID-impact season.
"We have been preaching to the kids that we can go nine deep. I even said it in the locker room before the game tonight that each one of (our) guys brings a little something different," said Hamilton, now 146-74 in his ninth season at Lexington.
"Possibly even the starting lineup could change depending on who we're playing. We told the guys that your role could be 15 minutes tonight. It could be 20 minutes in the next game. It depends on the matchups," Hamilton said.
That depth allowed Lexington to press the young Colts out of their own corral in the first quarter. Clear Fork committed twice as many turnovers (eight) as it did shots (four) in the first period as Lexington raced to a 15-0 start and led 19-4 lead after eight minutes.
"We want to really try to get after it defensively. And like I told the guys, I said, if you're going to play the defense that I want you to play, you're not going to be able to play 28 minutes. You're just not going to be able to, I don't care what kind of condition we're in," Hamilton said.
Clear Fork finished the game hitting just 22 percent of its FG attempts (6 of 27) with 19 turnovers compared to just three assists. The Colts were held to single digits in three of the four quarters.
Colts coach Steve Bechtel, whose varsity roster sports more sophomores (four) than seniors (three), said his team must learn to start faster.
"We need to be strong with the ball and ready to play at the beginning of the game," he said. "We were a little shell-shocked. We're young, we're inexperienced and those are things to be expected.
"We just have to do a lot better job next time out and handle those first minutes a whole lot better," Bechtel said.
The Clear Fork coach was pleased with his team's defense.
"They were pressing and with the amount of turnovers that we had, we still only gave up 51 points. So we felt defensively, we were doing an okay job. They hit a lot of really tough shots and you know, our turnovers gave him some easy baskets," Bechtel said.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Lexington senior Caden Eichler was the only player from either team with double digits in points. The 6-3 forward finished with 16 points on seven of 10 shooting from the field.
Junior forward Hudson Moore had nine while sophomore center Elijah Hudson and junior center Baden Forup each had seven.
Sophomore guard Adam Vanausdle and sophomore forward Beau Dombirer each had eight points for the Colts.
Lexington shot 57 percent from the field (21 of 37), but just 38 percent (5 of 13) from the line. Clear Fork was 12 of 16 from the line (75 percent).
The much-taller Minutemen only had a 23-21 rebounding edge, led by five from Eichler and four from Moore. Junior forward Kaden Riddle led the Colts with five.
Lexington committed 10 turnovers and 10 assists.
UP NEXT: Lexington, a member of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, hosts Oregon Clay on Dec. 4 in another non-league game. Clear Fork, who plays in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, hosts OCC foe Madison on Tuesday.