BY JOHN DUBOIS
The Georgetown-Ridge Farm Buffaloes broke open a tied game midway through the third quarter and pulled away late to take the consolation championship at the 94th annual Vermilion County tournament with a 58-46 win over the Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers.
The Buffaloes controlled things in the paint and were led by big men Kyle Coburn with a game high 20 points, and Aaron Scott — who added 14 points.
Tyson Reed chipped in with 10 points as the Buffaloes posted the highest point total in the first 22 games of the tournament and got all but two of their points from their starting five.
The Buffaloes attempted only one three pointer in the game and set the offensive tone early.
“Our first four field goals came in the paint and came from four different players,” said Georgetown-Ridge Farm coach Adam Latoz. “We are not a great shooting team and emphasized getting points in the paint tonight. This game absolutely meant something to us. Our guys felt like they had something to prove given the past history of success we have had at the tournament and we were hungry to come out and get this one.”
It was a different story for the Cornjerkers.
“We just didn’t come out ready to play,” said Hoopeston Area coach Matt Colston. “We made to many mistakes and consistency is something we have struggled with. You have to be ready to play from the start and we weren’t tonight.”
The Cornjerkers were led by Brennan Crose with 15 points with Daniel Lawson adding 14 points while Mason Layden chipped in with 13 points.
The Buffaloes jumped out to a 6-0 lead, led by as many as nine points in the first quarter, and ended the period with a 20-13 lead. Coburn scored 10 of his points in the first.
“You can’t allow 20 points in a quarter,” Colston said. “We have had trouble all year with teams getting in the paint on us. We have a lot of smaller players and to be effective we will have to do a better job of not shying away from contact.”
The Buffaloes controlled the early parts of the second quarter and took their largest lead of the first half at 32-19. Capped by a buzzer beating three from Lawson, the Cornjerkers would close out the quarter on a 7-0 run, cutting the Buffaloes lead to 32-26 heading into halftime.
A put-back by Layden would complete the run early in the third and tied the score at 32-32, but the Buffaloes responded with a 10-3 run and took a 42-35 advantage into the fourth.
“I was impressed with the composure of our team during the run by Hoopeston,” Latoz said. “Earlier in the year, we had a big lead in the North Vermilion game we let get away, but we have the experience now to execute our offense. You don’t run into to many teams that switch on defense the way Hoopeston does and to keep our composure on offense against a defense like that is an important step for us.”
The Buffaloes went on a 6-2 run to open the fourth which pushed the lead to 48-37. The Cornjerkers would get no closer than seven points as the Buffaloes sealed the game from the foul line.
“I’ve always felt that if you can keep your opponent in the 40’s that you have a good chance to win the game,” Latoz said. “Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with our defense this season, our problem this year has been scoring.”
The Cornjerkers struggled with injuries in the game.
“Mason Layden twisted his ankle in the third and Daniel Lawson was dealing with some hand issues,” Colston said. “Daniel really gutted it out for us tonight. The main thing for us though is that we have played better for longer periods of time.”
The Buffaloes (3-16) and the Cornjerkers (3-17) return to Vermilion Valley Conference play with a rematch at Hoopeston on Tuesday.