BY JOHN DUBOIS
The Georgetown-Ridge Farm Lady Buffaloes last won the Vermilion County tournament in 1991 and coming into this season, one of the goals the team set for itself was to change that.
On Saturday, the second-seeded Buffaloes got off to a good start in achieving that goal with a 51-33 win over the Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers at the David S. Palmer Arena.
Brittany Hay led the way with a game high 21 points with Maya Green adding 10 points and Kayla Wolpert chipping in with 10 points.
The Buffaloes didn’t play over the holiday break and had nearly three weeks off before returning to action earlier this week.
“We are just starting to get back into things,” said GRF coach Michelle Brooks. “You can practice all you want but nothing compares with game action. It took us awhile to get comfortable today as we haven’t faced a zone in awhile.
“You can get more action and flow going against man to man defense and we weren’t patient enough early on against their zone. It’s been along time since we have won a county title and we know its going to be a tough road, but winning one would mean a lot to our team.”
The teams would exchange baskets early with the Buffaloes ending the first quarter with a 10-9 lead with Callan Hall grabbing seven rebounds in the quarter for GRF.
The Buffaloes would limit the Cornjerkers to three points in the second quarter and took a 20-12 lead into halftime.
Hoopeston Area had won five of their last seven games coming into the tournament.
“During that streak we did a good job of communicating on the floor, but we didn’t do that today,” said Hoopeston Area coach Clint Matthewson. “We as well had a hard time adjusting to the Palmer Arena shooting back-drops and a lot of our shots were short. We kept it close early but we weren’t aggressive enough on offense, and though we did a good job on Green outside, we allowed too many easy baskets inside.”
The Buffaloes would take a 33-21 lead at the end of the third period and led by as many as 19 points in the fourth.
“We got a lot more comfortable in the second half and weren’t just looking for Maya or Brittany,” Brooks said. Our outside shots were off a little today and we were a little surprised at the intensity of the defensive pressure from Hoopeston.”
Coming back from a major surgery four weeks ago, Kayla Wolpert continued to work her way into the rotation for the Buffaloes, scoring 8 points.
“Kayla was really stepping into her role before she got hurt,” Brooks said. “She got the winning basket Thursday against Westville and though still not 100 percent she makes a difference inside with her size which adds another dimension for us.”
The Buffaloes limited the Cornjerkers to under 10 points in each of the first three quarters.
“We have been working on playing smart on defense and not making hacking type fouls,” Brooks said. “We have also been working on getting into position for rebounds and Callan did a very nice job of that. We were also balanced on offense and I was really happy with our effort on both sides of the ball.”
The Cornjerkers were led by nine points from Shelby Holzinger with Sarah Dixon adding eight points.
“We don’t have any all-star players on our team and when we win games we get the kind of offensive balance we got today,” Matthewson said. “We have to win with a total team effort, but the main problem was that overall we were just too timid today and we didn’t convert some of the opportunities we did have.”
Both teams return to action at the Palmer Arena on Monday with the Cornjerkers (7-12) facing the Westville Tigers at 5 p.m. The Buffaloes (13-3) will face the Oakwood Comets at 6:30 p.m.