Stockaders roll past Warriors, clinch share of MAL?title

OLD FORT – The way Old Fort coach Eric Hoover saw it, things weren’t quite as they should be.

And when Mohawk sophomore Juston Morter hit his third straight shot, two of them 3-pointers, in roughly a minute-and-a-half to trim the Stockader lead to 30-27, Hoover decided to, uh, express himself during a timeout with 2:11 to go in the half.

“We weren’t getting any stops on defense and we weren’t communicating and getting into the right defenses,” Hoover said in putting specifics to his 30-second tirade. “That’s unacceptable at this point of the year with the group of experienced guys we have.

“To build a lead, you’ve got to have stops on defense,” he said. “We were letting people too wide open and we weren’t doing a good job of closing out. I just tried to get them fired up.”

In a matter of seven seconds, freshman Hootie Cleveland nailed a 3-pointer. Then Hunter Perry turned a steal into a layup, Cleveland got a steal and fed Perry and then Adam Alexander knocked down a 3-pointer off yet another steal.

That gave the Stockaders a 40-29 lead at the half and they went on a 21-3 burst in the first 5:15 of the third period in putting the Warriors away 78-52 Friday night.

Old Fort improved to 15-5 overall and gained at least a share of its second straight Midland Athletic League championship in this, the final year for the league. The Stockaders are 9-0 with one league game left Friday at New Riegel.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” Hoover said of the back-to-back titles. “Obviously, last week (75-73 overtime win in a showdown with Carey) was huge and once we got that, we felt pretty good about the way we are playing.

“We’re just trying to take it once step at a time, but this was one we had to have to at least get our share of it that nobody can take away from us,” he said. “Our guys are pretty excited about it.”

Mohawk had a slight lead five different times and the game was tied seven times through the six-minute mark of the second period. But the Warriors (3-18, 1-8) were unable to maintain.

“I really didn’t want to get into a run-and-gun with an up-and-down pace with these guys,” Warrior coach Mike Mathey said. “But we hung with them in the first half and I thought we were doing what we needed to do. We were making some shots and playing pretty solid defense.

“We just hit a lull there for about two minutes where we had three or four turnovers there at the end of half,” he said. “We were down three and then all of a sudden, they were up 10 in a matter of a couple of minutes.

“It kind of carried over into the second half and that can’t happen,” he said. “We’ve just got to execute better and take care of the ball. When we got into the press breaker and ran it, we ran it pretty well. But then we started doing our own thing and it didn’t work so well.”

The Warriors finished with 23 turnovers with 18 of them in the middle two quarters. Six Old Fort players scored in the third-period blitz with Hunter Perry and Jon Lotycz each netting six.

“We talked about how the first four minutes of the third quarter were real important for building a lead and we were able to do that,” Hoover said.

Perry finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Stockaders. Cleveland had 15 points on five 3-point goals, Lotycz pitched in 11, Jordan Bryon nine and Maison Steyer had seven with six boards. Brad Bannister contributed eight assists.

“That’s two games in a row that we’ve done a very good job of sharing the ball,” Hoover said. “We got a lot of people in the scoring column and we did it by making the extra pass and finishing around the basket.”

Morter, a recent move-up from the junior varsity, led the Warriors with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Gunnar Johnson had nine points and seven rebounds and Hunter Fitschen added eight points.