For the Daily News
The type of play Altamont fans have come to expect this season was in full force early in the first half Tuesday at Vandalia.
The Indians scored three consecutive fast-break baskets off steals and led the Vandals 6-4 in the first quarter.
But then, something nobody in the building expected to happen occurred.
Less than two weeks after Vandalia edged Altamont in a 37-34 slugfest at its own holiday tournament, the Vandals dominated round two, rolling to a 58-36 win.
The Vandals (10-6) responded to the Indians' early 6-0 spurt with a 14-0 run and never looked back, putting together their best game of the season on the same night Altamont (11-4) played by far its worst game of the year.
"We didn't come to play," Altamont coach John Niebrugge said. "I didn't have them prepared enough. I guess my pregame speech wasn't fiery enough.
"We knew coming out it was gonna be a bloodbath, that it was gonna be a war, considering the last game was in the 30s. But we didn't come ready. I saw it before the game when we were warming up."
Altamont struggled mightily offensively in the opening quarter, as the three aforementioned fast-break buckets off steals were the only points the Indians would score in a frame in which they committed six turnovers and shot just 3-for-10 from the field.
Things didn't get much better in the second quarter, as the Indians made just 3 of 15 field goals. Still, Altamont found itself within striking distance at halftime, down by just eight points, 24-16, despite shooting 24 percent from the floor in the opening 16 minutes (6 for 25).
But the Vandals dispelled any notion the Indians might have had about coming back by outscoring Altamont 26-11 in the third quarter, blowing the game wide open.
The Vandals scored six points on one possession, doing so by hitting a pair of free throws on a personal foul, then two more after a technical was called on Niebrugge that also gave them the ball out of bounds, ultimately resulting in a putback that suddenly had the host team up 14 points.
Vandalia wound up hitting 11 of 13 field goals in the frame against an Altamont team that has taken pride in its defense all year.
"That's too much," Niebrugge said. "We weren't prepared -- coaches and players. They were. They had us scouted pretty well and we weren't ready to play."
The Vandals shot 59 percent from the field overall, with big man Michael Wells leading the way inside with 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Wells also grabbed seven rebounds.
Garrett Ziegler led Altamont with 14 points, but hit just 5 of 16 from the field. Vandalia is one of the few teams to have luck slowing down the explosive junior point guard this year, as Ziegler was 0-for-10 from the field in the Indians' prior meeting with the Vandals.
Jon Kuhns and Ryan Mayhaus had nine rebounds apiece for Altamont, but Vandalia held the inside duo to just eight points combined.
Most importantly, Altamont scored just five points off Vandalia turnovers after those three-straight steals for layups in the opening quarter.
"We had that 6-4 lead there, and we got our points off our defense," Niebrugge said. "We know we're not the most offensively talented. We have to get points off our defense, and we just didn't do that tonight.
"Vandalia's gonna come after ya," Niebrugge added. "If you're not ready, they're gonna punch you in the mouth and you're gonna take it."
The Indians have now lost two straight for the first time this season. They will have a pair of opportunities to get back on track coming up, starting with a home game against North Clay on Friday, followed by an afternoon tilt at Patoka on Saturday.
Vandalia 58, Altamont 36
Altamont 6 10 11 9 -- 36
Vandalia 12 12 26 8 -- 58
Altamont Scoring -- Ziegler 5-16 2-4 14, Goeckner 0-0 0-1 0, McGinnis 1-1 2-2 5, Borders 0-1 2-2 2, Seidel 1-2 3-3 5, Kuhns 3-12 0-0 6, Mayhaus 1-3 0-0 2, Jahraus 1-6 0-0 2, Jackman 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-43 9-13 36.
Vandalia Scoring -- Cowger 2-3 0-0 4, Nestleroad 0-0 2-2 2, Ritchey 2-5 4-5 8, Harter 5-8 1-1 11, Godoyo 3-9 2-4 8, Ch.Woolsey 1-2 0-0 2, Wells 8-10 1-2 17, Co.Woolsey 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 23-39 12-16 58.
3-point goals -- Vandalia 0, Altamont 1 (Ziegler). Rebounds -- Altamont 24 (Mayhaus 9, Kuhns 9), Vandalia 17 (Wells 7). Turnovers -- Altamont 15, Vandalia 11. Personal Fouls -- Vandalia 13, Altamont 13. Technicals -- Altamont (Bench). JV -- Altamont 47, Vandalia 33.