Hootie and the blowout

OLD FORT – Elijah “Hootie” Cleveland got his nickname early.

Very early.

“When I was born, I had these small hairs on my ears like a hoot owl, so my parents called me that,” Cleveland said.

The Old Fort freshman isn’t usually the one to grab the headlines – that honor has typically fallen on senior teammate Hunter Perry.

But Wednesday, like a hoot owl stalking his prey, it was Cleveland who did in St. Wendelin with 3 after 3 in a decisive second second quarter.

Cleveland’s made four 3s in the second quarter as the Stockaders outscored the Mohawks 28-7. They improved to 14-5 and 8-0 in the Midland Athletic League with a 90-46 victory.

Cleveland finished with 17 points and five 3s.

“He’s got one job for us, and that’s it,” Old Fort coach Eric Hoover said. “Hootie stepped up. He made shots and helped us build our lead.”

Cleveland said he was shooting with a good amount of confidence.

“I was feeling it,” Cleveland said. “I thought, ‘Hey, I’m open, I might as well throw it up there.'”

He did it on a night when Hunter Perry’s shot was a little off – for him, anyway. Perry still finished with a game-high 19.

With his point total Wednesday, Perry now has 1,351 for his career. He trails New Riegel grad Dustin Kinn by 18 points for sixth place in all-time scoring in the MAL.

On this night, though, Perry did more than score. He added seven rebounds, six steals and dished out five assists as Old Fort piled up points.

“That’s the thing, the way he’s grown,” Hoover said. “It used to be that if he had an off night shooting, he didn’t do much else.

“He’s a very good passer,” Hoover said. “He can get it to people.”

The results of that passing could be seen up and down the Old Fort stat sheet.

Maison Steyer finished with 12 points, Brad Bannister had 11, Adam Alexander had nine and Jordan Bryon had eight.

St. Wendelin was paced by Nick Root, who had 14 points, by Peter Campbell’s 11, and by Gabe Walters, who had 10 rebounds to go with nine points.

The Mohawks played well in the first quarter, and trailed just 14-10 at the first stop. But a variety of Old Fort presses caused them problems after that.

“Early on we were handling the pressure,” SW coach Jim Rutter said. “They did a good job changing it up. We didn’t adjust to that.”

St. Wendelin fell to 8-11, 1-8 in the MAL.