FOSTORIA - It didn't take long for Old Fort to establish itself against St. Wendelin. In fact within the first minute, St. Wendelin turned the ball over twice and the Stockaders capitalized on the errors by taking a 9-2 lead. The Stockaders continued to pile up the points, leading 22-7 after the first quarter and having a monster second period of 35 points to go into the half, ahead 57-12.
St. Wendelin came out hard in the second half, scoring 22 points in the third quarter alone but it wasn't nearly enough to contend with No. 7 Old Fort, who prevailed 103-51.
"We wanted to come out and first thing we wanted to do is establish our half-court defense; defensive intensity, make that our focus and I felt like we did that the first few minutes," Old Fort coach Eric Hoover said. "They had a hard time getting any good shots off and we controlled the boards and got easy wide open shots by pushing the ball down the floor."
Old Fort didn't miss a beat in the first half, sinking every one of its seven foul shots and shooting a solid 21 for 38 from the field, including an 8-for-12 showing from beyond the arc.
Cole Davidson accumulated 19 points by halftime, more than the entire St. Wendelin team.
It wasn't until the second half when Old Fort's defense started to get sluggish and allowed a few uncontested layups.
"We let them make a big run in the second half, the whole second half. They just continued to get layup after layup. Once you lose focus you can't automatically flip it on and get it back," Hoover said. "
However for Hoover, the faulty defense is something he will work to change.
"We gotta continue to get better on defense and mostly our mentality. We can't take possessions off because we get a lead. It has to be an every time thing," Hoover said.
The Stockaders (16-1, 7-0 Midland Athletic League) may have slowed down in the second half, but one player who did not was Hunter Perry.
"We got some stops in the first half and scored off of it. The second half we got a little lazy," Perry said. "I just wanted to go out like coach told me to go out and treat it like it's a new quarter, a new half."
Perry did exactly that, rekindling the Old Fort fire late in the third quarter with two short jumpers to put up his team up 74-34. The Stockaders went on to outscore the Mohawks (5-9, 1-6) 29-17 in the final period.
Perry ended with a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds. That also included seven assists and two steals. This marks Perry's fourth game in a row scoring more than 20 points.
"It feels like I'm starting to be a leader and I want to, that's my goal and I hope I keep stepping up and making big plays," Perry said.
For St. Wendelin coach Jim Rutter, the loss reflects on how much work his team puts in during practice.
"They weren't ready to play. It's basically the way we practiced during the week. One of the things that becomes difficult is learning to practice hard when you don't feel good, or you don't want to be there or your girlfriend broke up with you or your homework is due," Rutter said. "You can't come to a game against a good team like Old Fort and decide you're going to flip the switch all of the sudden when you didn't practice hard."
It also didn't help that St. Wendelin committed 28 turnovers, whereas Old Fort only had 12. Old Fort also out-rebounded the Mohawks 37-23.
Davidson backed Perry with 21 points while Marc Salas chipped in 12.
"I haven't had a good game in a while so it felt good to finally come out and get one," Salas said.
Matt Hill, A.J. Phillimore and Hunter Perry's older brother Dalton Perry each tossed in 10.
The win keeps Old Fort undefeated in league play; the only such team left, now that previously league unbeaten New Riegel lost to Fremont St. Joe 59-54 Friday.
However, Hoover still notes that there is still a lot of regular season play left. Maybe finding out the Stockaders are now the only undefeated team in the MAL will give his boys enough motivation to get things done.
That and continuing to be state ranked.
"We got a long way to go," Hoover said.