Stockaders surge in second half
KANSAS – It was a lengthy post-game discussion Eric Hoover had with his Old Fort Stockaders, long enough that one felt inclined to remind him his team had just scored a 32-point win.
“Yeah, well, I had a few things to say,” offered Hoover, his facial expression defying the 71-39 decision of Lakota here Thursday night.
The Stockaders improved to 14-1 overall and they remained tied with New Riegel for the top spot in the Midland Athletic League standings at 6-0, but
“We were making the same mistakes over and over and over again,” Hoover said of an up-and-down first half that ended with Old Fort owning a 34-25 lead. “I call a timeout and we go back out and do the same thing I just said not to do. So, yeah, I did talk to them about a few things at halftime.”
His words had the desired result.
Dalton Perry took a pass from Cole Davidson for a baseline score to get things started. Then Hunter Perry had a baseline drive, a three-point play and followed with a slick pass to Dalton for two as Old Fort opened a 43-27 lead.
The Raiders (4-9, 2-4) didn’t get a shot off until nearly three minutes into the second half. Kyle Below’s inside score at 2:49 slowed the Old Fort surge, but the Stockaders scored the next 11 points to put the game away.
“We came out in a man and just played them half-court with the idea of just trying to shut them down,” Hoover said. “We did a good job with it. We established that in the first four minutes and carried it out from there.”
“We were missing some shots that were pretty easy shots that third quarter,” Lakota coach Tim Walsh said. “You can’t do that against a good team. Old Fort is a good-shooting team and any time we gave them any kind of a good look, they made their shots. I give credit to them for their shooting.”
Old Fort’s big three the two Perrys and Davidson combined for 53 points. Hunter Perry led with 24 points and four assists while Dalton Perry checked in with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Davidson added 15 points on five 3-pointers. He became the school’s all-time leader for career 3-pointers in Old Fort’s 84-46 win over Northwood Tuesday. He knocked his coach out of the top spot.
“That’s fine with me,” Hoover said. “I told him to just keep on going. Don’t stop now just because you have the record. You need to set it as high as possible.”
“Between (Davidson) and Hunter Perry, if you give them a look for even a second, they’re going to make it,” Walsh said. “Things just snowballed on us there in the second half.”
At times, the first half was a different matter.
Old Fort led 12-11 and then scored 15 straight points over a 4:49 span for a 27-11 advantage. But the Raiders, with a couple 3-pointers by Nathan Ray and two inside hoops by Gavin Sprow trimmed the margin to nine by halftime.
“I think our kids came ready to play,” Walsh said. “They didn’t back down and I thought they played a heck of a good first half against them. But then we hit that dry spell in the third quarter and you can’t do that against a good team.”
Ray led the Raiders with 11 points with Sprow (seven rebounds) and Josh Kirkpatrick each scoring 10.
Old Fort, ranked seventh in this week’s Associated Press Division IV poll, plays its third game in five days Saturday at home against Vanlue. Zach Garber, a 6-foot-10 University of Toledo recruit, leads the Wildcats.
“Obviously, Garber is a special player,” Hoover said. “It’s a fun challenge. We haven’t had to defend against a dominant post player since Seneca East. It will help us prepare for the Reinhart kid (Brandyn) from New Riegel later in the year.”