By FRANK CASH
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
SHELBINA, Mo. -- When the South Shelby boys basketball team started the second half Tuesday night with a taller lineup, Canton didn't flinch.
Instead, the Tigers used it to their advantage.
Leading by only one point early in the third quarter, Canton turned to its fast-break offense to outscore the Cardinals 19-4 over a five-minute stretch en route to a 65-50 non-conference victory.
"We started getting to the rim a little bit better in the second half," Tigers junior guard Tyler Niemann said. "We took better shots and we had better hustle. They were quite a bit bigger than us but we rebounded better because we got to the rim."
It helped Canton improve to 7-0, its best start in over a decade.
"The kids are playing hard and they're doing what we want them to do," Tigers coach Andy Anderson said. "And it's been against some pretty good teams. We're playing well when we need to and we're playing hard."
Despite four players picking up two fouls apiece during the first half, Canton grabbed a 29-24 lead when Austin Hoewing drained a long 3-pointer from the right wing at the halftime buzzer. Since the Tigers played without 6-foot-2 forward David McReynolds, who was nursing a shoulder injury he suffered last Friday against Clark County, South Shelby started 6-1 Hadley Roberts in the second half alongside 6-3 Andre McClure and 6-1 Wyatt Proper.
The idea seemed to work as Proper and McClure scored from the low block during the first minute of the third quarter. But starting with Cameron Durst's short jumper, Canton went on a run that was capped off by Gabe McKenzie's two free throws for a 48-32 lead with 2:07 left in the third.
The Cardinals (5-2) didn't expect the Tigers to get in a run-and-gun mode at that point of the game.
"Their intensity got to us," South Shelby coach Philip Dunkle said. "And our own intensity wasn't as good as it should have been. We had the size advantage, but they controlled the boards and had no trouble getting to the basket."
Canton also made good use of its perimeter shooting against the Cardinals' zone defense. Hoewing was 4 of 10 from behind the 3-point arc and scored a season-high 16 points, trailing only Niemann's 18. Brandon Berhorst finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.
"I got the ball in some pretty good places on the floor and had some good looks at the basket," Hoewing said. "I hadn't been shooting too well from three this year. Tonight, I started making some.
"Everyone did what they needed to tonight. We played pretty good team ball."
Replacing McReynolds in the Tigers' starting lineup was Durst, a sophomore. Anderson was excited about the way he and McKenzie, also a sophomore, played against the Cardinals' veteran post players.
"Cameron went out there and did a great job," Anderson said. "We also did a good moving some players in and out of the lineup. It really paid off and helped when we got in some foul trouble."
The Tigers' perimeter defense was also effective as South Shelby's guards scored only six points -- all of those coming on Collin Roberts' two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
McClure led the Cardinals with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Hadley Roberts scored 15 and Proper added 11.
"Our guard play has to improve," Dunkle said. "We've got to be better creating opportunities for ourselves. Canton took it to our guards in the third quarter."