Apart from a defensive fallout in the third quarter, the Durant boys basketball team's season opener on Tuesday went as well as second-year coach Trent Tice could have asked, even though the sluggish stretch in the second half left him dumbfounded.
Led by senior 6-foot-4 forward Andre Nation's 24 points and nine blocks, the Cougars topped host Strawberry Crest, 62-42.
With 7:03 remaining in the third quarter, Durant owned an 18-point lead when Strawberry Crest (1-1) went on a 15-5 run to end the quarter and close the deficit, 42-34, its closest margin since the opening minutes of the first quarter.
"The third quarter was a little rough, but we ended the game well," Tice said. "We just got complacent and Andre got in foul trouble."
Nation fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, but Kyle White (20 points) took charge and Crest ran out of gas as Durant sealed the win.
"We got our nerves out of the way," said Nation, who also had six rebounds and two steals. "We have to learn how to return (to our game) after something like that (third quarter)."
Senior guard Reggie Burke led the Chargers with 17 points.
Nation's presence under the basket thwarted many would-be Charger shots in the paint. At the half, he had 13 points and nine blocks.
"That's what he's going to do," Tice said. "He's going to put up big numbers."
DURANT 62, STRAWBERRY CREST 42
DURANT (62) - Nation 9-4-6-22, White 8-5-7-21, Nelson 3-1-1-7, Smith 3-1-2-8, Sitter 0-2-2-2, McChord 0-1-2-1. Totals 23 12-20-62.
STRAWBERRY CREST (42) - Burke 6-3-5-17, Diggs 3-4-7-10, Carter 4-0-0-10, Mathis 1-0-0-3, Fields 1-0-0-2, Mitchell 0-0-1-0. Totals 15 7-12-42.
Durant 23 11 8 20 - 62
Strawberry Crest 10 7 17 8 - 42
3-point goals - Nation 2, Smith (D); Burke 2, Carter 2 (S). Total Fouls - D 16, S 15. Fouled Out - Nation (D). Records - D 1-0, S 1-1