H-L opens Classic with victory

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Hopewell-Loudon's Jordyn Jury shoots over Hardin Northern's Cody Wilmoth Friday in Bascom.

BASCOM — Every win means a little something and some mean a little more than others.

Such was the case here Friday night at the third annual Chieftain Cody Rainey Tip-Off Classic. The event, renamed to honor Hopewell-Loudon student and basketball manager Cody Rainey, who died along with his parents, a brother and a sister in an October 2017 fire, brought out the best in the Chieftains. They rolled to a 74-27 win over Hardin Northern.

Hopewell-Loudon takes on Mansfield Temple Christian in the title game today. The Chieftains were to have played Ridgedale in the title game after the Rockets beat Temple Christian 86-43, but Ridgedale had a tragedy involving a student and had to withdraw from the event.

Action begins with the junior varsity teams at 12:15 p.m., followed by the varsity game at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Hopewell-Loudon’s win was a game of spurts, two really big ones, in disposing of a young Hardin Northern club in Friday’s nightcap.

“We told the kids before the game, there was going to be a lot of emotion,” H-L coach Roger Jury said of the ceremony to honor Cody Rainey, who would have been a junior this year. “The Class of 2020 and all the kids on the team were exceptionally close to Cody as was I.”

The Chieftains led 9-6 after a lackluster first period bogged with 14 turnovers. Eight of those were by the Polar Bears, who feature five sophomores and two freshmen on their roster.

And when Hunter Joliff hit back-to-back baskets early in the second period, he pulled his club even at 14-14 with 5:06 to go in the half. After that, however, the Polar Bears got bombed.

Hopewell-Loudon went long range and seven of eight scoring possessions ended in made 3-pointers. Travis Milligan hit four of those, freshman Ried Jury added a pair and Jordyn Jury the other in a 24-4 burst that produced a 38-18 Chieftain lead at the half.

“We’ve got skilled kids — two or three kids have a 40 to 50 percent chance to (make) 3s,” Jury said. “That’s good and it opens up our drives, too. The kids are pretty good with the ball. They pass it real well, share it real well.

“Finally, when we played some defense and were allowed to run and spread the floor, that’s when we got our 3s,” he said. “Most of them were in the shooting pocket and we had more space. We’re going to go as far and play as well as our defense plays.”

On this night, that was pretty good.

Lance Good, who led Hardin Northern with nine points, opened the second-half scoring with a foul shot. The Chieftains then ripped off the next 27 points, 25 in the third period to blow out to a 65-19 advantage.

“That was probably the best half of basketball that group of kids have played in a really long time,” Hardin Northern coach Jared Thomas said of the early portion when his club played even with H-L. “They just didn’t have the gas. And, by the way, (Hopewell-Loudon) hit like seven 3s there in the second quarter and when you’re young, it sort of takes the gas out of you.

“If you’re going to make a jump and start to be able to compete with teams like that, that third quarter has to be pretty even,” he said. “I’ll give you that maybe we died and ran out of energy in the second quarter, but we can’t have a dead third quarter. We’ve got to make that our chip away and comeback time.”

Milligan tossed in six 3-pointers and Jordyn Jury had a pair as each scored 18 points to pace the Chieftains. Jury also had nine rebounds and four assists.

Ried Jury added 14 points and Kyle Rumschlag scored seven while Marshall Reinhard and Carter Coffman grabbed eight and seven rebounds, respectively.

Hopewell-Loudon is a two-time defending champion of this event.