Old Fort has winning formula

OLD FORT – Old Fort’s defensive pressure forced Hopewell-Loudon turnovers. Hopewell-Loudon turnovers caused Old Fort transition opportunities. Old Fort’s transition opportunities meant Old Fort baskets. Old Fort baskets meant a big Old Fort win.

OK, so it’s not exactly an Einstein formula. But it worked for the streaking Stockaders Thursday night in a 73-37 Midland Athletic League thrashing of the Chieftains.

“That’s kind of how we try to operate,” Old Fort coach Eric Hoover said after his team – the No. 6 squad in Division IV – improved to 17-1, 8-0 in the MAL. “That’s the game plan on most nights.”

In this case, Hopewell-Loudon hindered itself – and confounded coach Adam Smith – by committing 31 turnovers.

“We haven’t handled pressure all year, but I was stunned at how poorly we handled (Old Fort’s pressure),” Smith said. “We just … we threw the ball to the bleachers … I was shocked at how bad we handled that.”

It started reasonably well for Hopewell-Loudon. With sophomore post Tyler Imes dominating up front – he had six rebounds in the first quarter – the Chieftains notched a 6-2 lead after a Ryan Lommerse floater with 5:23 left in the period.

Then Old Fort starting hitting shots and bringing pressure. A 3 from the right side by Cole Davidson gave the Stockaders their first lead at 7-6. Alec Gregg answered with a jumper to regain a one-point lead at the 2:34 mark.

Then Old Fort took off, going on a 12-0 run to close the quarter. A straight away 3 from Davidson at the buzzer made it 19-8.

It was a night when Davidson, who made five 3s and scored 19 points, had his shot working. And he wasn’t even the leading scorer. Teammate Hunter Perry made 11 baskets on his way to 22 points.

Brad Bannister had 10 points for Old Fort, while Dalton Perry, who came in third in the MAL in points, had five.

Hoover attributed Dalton Perry’s point total to the defenders that always doubled him.

“It’s a definite advantage to have guys who can shoot the ball and shoot the ball well from the outside and do it consistently,” Hoover said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense, especially when they have to concentrate on somebody like Dalton inside. Dalton was getting a lot of there … both (H-L’s) big guys were on him, or they would run a guard at him if he touched the ball, so he always had two guys on him the whole time. That left some openings for Hunter and Cole, and they took advantage.”

Old Fort led Hopewell-Loudon 33-16 at the half. The Chieftains then came out for the third quarter and played their best stretch of the night.

Weston Hill opened the the second half with a jumper, beginning a spurt in which H-L made five consecutive shots, going on a 9-2 run and cutting the Old Fort lead to 35-25 with about five minutes left in the third. H-L had a few more possessions to cut even more into the Stockaders lead, but couldn’t convert.

“We had (the deficit) to 10, and we had the ball twice to cut into that,” Smith said. “To get to that point, we just handled the press a little bit. We executed a couple nice plays that got us layups, but basically, we didn’t turn the ball over. We got shots off.”

But then the turnovers started piling up again, and Old Fort began to push its lead back out.

The Stockaders went on an 18-4 run over the remainder of the third, then outscored H-L 20-8 in the fourth.

Smith was asked what’s most impressive about Old Fort.

“They’re so offensively skilled,” he said. “We’ve said when they come on the floor, they’re not somebody that, ‘Whoa, man, this is a dominant-looking team. ‘ But they can all dribble pass and shoot. And it’s amazing what you can do when you can dribble, pass and shoot.”

H-L (8-8, 4-4) was led by Imes, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds.