Big game, Hunter

NORTH BALTIMORE – Eric Hoover said he saw a shooting performance like the one Hunter Perry put on for Old Fort against North Baltimore here Friday night just one other time.

But it’s not really fair to compare someone to the all-time scoring leader in Ohio high school basketball history.

Regardless of the measuring stick, Perry’s 55 points rank as the most ever for an Old Fort player as the Stockaders ran past the Tigers 89-76 in the Midland Athletic League opener for both.

“When I was coaching at Mohawk, we played Jon Diebler and this, this was kind of reminiscent of that,” Hoover said after his club improved to 2-0 while dropping the Tigers to 1-2. “It seemed like Hunter could do whatever he wanted offensively.”

Whatever Perry wanted in this case meant hitting 20-of-32 shots, including 9-of-13 from 3-point range. He was also perfect on six free-throw attempts with seven rebounds, three assists and five steals.

The nine 3-pointers and 55 total points surpassed previous Old Fort highs of eight and 47 by Matt Molyet in the 1991-92 season. His total points also set a record for points in a game by an MAL boy.

“I’ve seen Hunter play enough throughout the summer and I’ve known all along that he was perfectly capable of something like this,” Hoover said. “It was good to see and certainly it’s a confidence-booster for him. He’s done it to us in practice but to do it in a game against another team is something else altogether.”

Perry needed just 15 seconds to offer a sample of his big night with a 3-pointer to open the game’s scoring.

The Stockaders trailed just once at 4-3, but Perry drove for a layup and canned another 3-pointer to put his club in top for good.

After Old Fort built a 22-17 lead at the quarter break, Perry and teammate Maison Steyer combined on a scoring burst that pushed the margin to 17 at 50-33 at the half.

Steyer had a couple 3-pointers while scoring all 15 of his points in the first half. Meanwhile Perry, who scored 30 in just three quarters in a season-opening 85-40 romp over Danbury, had 31 points by halftime against the Tigers. That included 19 points in the second period, an effort that featured four 3-pointers and a three-point play.

“To be honest, I’ve been dreaming about games like this a lot,” Perry said. “You look at the record book and think, maybe some day I could get that.

“I’ve been working in practice and outside of practice, trying to get better,” he said. “I went out and just tried to play my game and it happened.”

There was still another half to play, but it was mostly Perry’s stage. The Tigers had lots of offense, but not nearly enough defense to challenge.

“We tried. Believe me, we tried,” said John Kloepfer, who is serving as interim head coach while Jon Eichar recovers from hip surgery. “We tried to deny him, but they set screens and he was hitting shots you don’t think he’d hit. He was hitting them four or five feet behind the 3-point line. I don’t know what else you do.

“It was probably one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time,” he said. “His shooting percentage, especially from where he was shooting, was unbelievable.”

Perry scored 11 more in the third period, surpassing the school and MAL record, as Old Fort maintained a 66-51 lead.

He didn’t realize it at the time. In fact, no one did. School officials thought the record was 49 points, a mark Perry topped by hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 4:11 to play in the third.

It was while shooting those foul shots that the senior realized a big night could be a record night.

“I looked up once and it was at 49 and I said to myself, I’ve got to hit this free throw,” he said.

“It was fun,” he said. “The game just came to me and that’s good. I didn’t want to force things. It just seemed to come to me.”

Sophomore Chad Wright had 25 points and seven rebounds to lead North Baltimore. Jacob Frost added 14 points and 10 boards, Tyler Trumbull scored 13 and Levi Newcomer 10.

“We really don’t want much of a half-court game,” Hoover said of the mostly up-tempo game. “That’s not a secret; we’ve been playing that way for a few years now. I just feel like we function better when we’re on the move. And that’s Hunter’s game also. I will say though, if we could have gotten a few more stops on defense, I’d have been excited about that.”

But there was no stopping Hunter Perry on this night. And even Hoover would have to admit, that was plenty exciting enough.