LAMPASAS — Shonderius Howard produces an odd effect.
Lampasas’ senior guard started the season strong before a leg injury limited his production over the past few weeks. Without him functioning at full capacity, the Badgers struggled.
On Wednesday, however, Howard proved the spring was back in his step, delivering strong dunks on each of his first three field-goal attempts, energizing his teammates and sparking a dominant first-half performance as Lampasas defeated Blackburn — a traveling team from Australia — by 25 points, 52-27.
After the game, Badgers head coach Rob Shivers admitted Howard’s presence alters the team’s chemistry and mentality.
“He’s a third-year varsity guy on a team with a bunch of inexperienced guys,” Shivers said. “He is a calming influence, too. It is a weird dichotomy. He’ll play and you can fell the intensity, but then also he calms us down, especially our backcourt.”
Howard finished with a game-high 11 points as five Badgers tallied at least eight points in the lopsided victory that was never in question following Lampasas’ 26-6 run to start the game.
“We just wanted to play fast and get out in transition,” Howard said. “We didn’t want to slow down. … We just wanted to push the ball.”
The Vikings held an early 4-2 lead, but it quickly vanished thanks to Lampasas’ defensive pressure.
The Badgers (6-9) did not allow Blackburn to record a field goal during the final four minutes of the first quarter and limited the Vikings to just two second-quarter points on 1 of 9 shooting.
By halftime, Lampasas was comfortably in control, leading 26-8 as Gary Spencer scored all eight of his points in the first half to compliment Howard’s impressive start.
Despite the score, the Vikings were dictating the tempo, Shivers said.
“We thought we were going to be the ones pushing the pace, trying to press and making the game fast,” he said, “but they were the ones making the game fast.”
Both teams went cold in the third quarter, combining to score 15 points on 5 of 28 shooting, but Lampasas still managed to outscore its opponent 9-6 to take a 35-14 advantage into the final quarter.
Blackburn almost doubled its production from the first three quarters combined during the final eight minutes, but the damage was already done and the gap never grew closer than 17 points.
The Badgers play their final game before the holiday break Friday at Canyon Lake, and Shivers is looking forward to finally having a long stretch to work with his players without being interrupted by his game schedule.
“We’ve got a good six or seven days of practice after coming back from the break,” Shivers said. “That’s the part I want to get to. There are some things we need to correct. … I think we’ve got so much room to improve. To me, that is exciting.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org