OLD FORT - To suggest that Elmwood's basketball season has been a study of extremes would be an understatement.
When the Royals have had things going their way, they've been very, very good. When they haven't, well
It was one of those not-so-good nights here Thursday. Unbeaten Old Fort stuttered along for a little more than 10 minutes and then put on a blitz of the first order in manhandling the Royals 71-44.
"We've played two really good teams and two really good teams have killed us," said Elmwood coach Ty Traxler after his club fell to 5-2.
The average margin of victory for the Royals has been 24 points per game, but the average margin for losses is 34. Lake, also unbeaten thus far, beat Elmwood 61-19 two weeks ago.
This one didn't have the look of a Stockader romp early. Austin Hoiles hit a baseline jumper, Aaron Arnold turned a steal into a basket and Zach Foster canned a 3-pointer in transition for a 7-0 Royal lead three minutes into the game.
"I've never been a big fan of games over break," Old Fort coach Eric Hoover said. "So many times in games like this, it seems like we come out flat and that's what we did tonight. We came out flat and they came out aggressive and hit some early shots.
"We just weren't getting enough pressure to force some turnovers," he said. "Our offense was stagnant. But we finally got it going when we were able to pick up the pressure a little bit. We made some plays defensively, got some easy points and got a little energy going."
Dalton Perry broke the team's 0-for-6 start with a drive and then Hunter Perry turned three straight steals into a pair of layups and a couple foul shots.
That was part of a 10-0 run that was fueled by four Elmwood turnovers in a matter of 36 seconds. The Royals led 14-13 at the quarter break thanks to three 3-pointers by Foster and it was 16-15 two minutes into the second period.
But the turnaround was coming and it hit in a big way.
Cole Davidson's 3-pointer put the 8-0 Stockaders on top for good at 18-16 with 5:34 left in the half. The shot was the start to a 17-4 finish to the half for a 32-20 Old Fort lead.
"We had the good start and then boom, boom, boom, we made a couple bad passes and all heck broke loose," Traxler said. "Even still, I felt like if we could get a stop or two at the beginning of the third quarter, we could get right back in it. I was thinking if we could just handle (Old Fort's pressure game), but we never did. Instead, we started their offense with our bad offense by turning the ball over."
Foster's fourth 3-pointer of the game trimmed the lead to 34-23 early in the third period, but the Stockaders, with six points each by Dalton Perry, Davidson and AJ Phillimore, put together a 22-7 burst turned the game into a rout.
Davidson led a group of four in double figures with 18 points, including a couple 3-pointers. Dalton Perry had 16 points, Hunter Perry 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds, and Matt Hill came off the bench to score 11 points.
"We had good balance; we got a lot of guys involved," Hoover said. "As we go, that's something we're going to have to develop a little more. This is the time of the year teams start focusing a little more. They know who your better players are and they're going to work to shut those people down, make other people do things."
Arnold led Elmwood with 21 points while Foster finished with 13. But Old Fort worked the Royals for 24 turnovers, 18 of them in the first half, and the Stockaders had a 31-17 edge in rebounding.
Old Fort's best stat, however, was shooting. The winners went 29-for-51 from the field, including 15-for-24 in the second half.
"That's more like we've been shooting," Hoover said. "We got a lot of good looks and did a much better job of finishing plays and being strong with the basketball."
Good for the Stockaders and very bad for the Royals.