The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

January 30, 2013

Storm defeats Toppers

CATLIN —  Of the 10 teams in the Vermilion Valley Conference, the Salt Fork Storm boys basketball team easily has the best overall record with only three losses. Yet with five games remaining in the regular season, they find themselves sitting in third place.

Though the ultimate goal is to have all aspects of their game fine-tuned for the upcoming regional, they know there is still a chance to secure a conference title.

All the Storm have to do is take care of business for the remainder of the season, which includes defeating the current first place Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils (8-0) and second place Westville Tigers (7-1). Those two contests will fittingly end the regular season for the Storm on February 12 15 respectively.

But standing in the way on Tuesday in an attempt to also stay in the conference race, and ruin Salt Fork’s chances of remaining in contention, were the Schlarman Academy Hilltoppers. Schlarman Academy battled its way back from down by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter, but Salt Fork refused to let the Hilltoppers spoil their shot at a VVC title and pulled out a 68-60 win.

“I keep reminding these kids that if you just keep winning, one game at a time, we’re going to find ourselves with a chance to play for the conference championship on that last night of the regular season,” Salt Fork coach Andrew Johnson said. “The kids have bought into it, they want it, and at the same time, too, it’s a big goal for us to have that conference championship. Pushing for that is a major goal that we have, and hopefully we can pursue that goal.”

The win was the third in a row for the Storm (20-3 overall, 7-1 in the VVC) since losing to Westville in the championship of the Vermilion County Tournament. Since then, Salt Fork has made sure to emphasize controlling the things they can control most in a game. That means, according to Johnson, executing and playing smart. And of course defense.

“I think we have to focus on our defense a lot,” Storm junior Ross Learnard said. “When we have our weaknesses, we just have to work on our defense, boxing out, getting boards. Our defense needs to always be there, and our offense will come. I’ve always been told that the best offense is a good defense.”

That especially held true for the Salt Fork point guard who finished the game with 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and five steals. Teammate Max Stutsman scored 14 and had a game-high 15 rebounds with 13 on the defensive glass.

As a team, the Storm swiped a total of 13 steals, accounting for nearly all of Schlarman Academy’s 16 turnovers. Cole Taylor (12 points) had three steals, and Taylor Kirby and Stutsman had two each.

Learnard and Schlarman Academy guard Austin Calhoun battled in the opening moments of the game, and Calhoun’s defensive pressure won out until Learnard stepped up his game.

After being responsible for three early turnovers, Learnard regained his focus and got the Storm back on track.

“As a former point guard myself, I understand the pressures of, when they are in a full-court press and they are putting all of that pressure on you, it puts a lot of emphasis on you being able to handle that pressure, to handle the ball all the time and to be the main decision maker,” Johnson said. “I thought he did a good job, for the most part, of making those decisions that we needed for us to be successful tonight — handling that pressure, knowing when to take the ball to the basket, knowing when to pull the ball out and run our offense.

“The point guard has got to be a leader out there, and they’ve got to lead mostly by example by calming the rest of the team down and making sure that everything that we do offensively runs smoothly. I thought he did a good job, for the most part, handling all of those things.”

The Hilltoppers (15-9, 5-3) trailed by five at the end of the first quarter, and remained within striking distance at halftime in large part to Andrew Kelley’s first-half effort. Kelley scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half, and ultimately grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. Calhoun led all scorers with 24 points and had four steals. Thirteen of his points came in the fourth quarter when the Hilltoppers reduced an 18-point deficit to only eight with 21 seconds remaining.

Schlarman Academy used a full-court press and forced Salt Fork into seven fourth-quarter turnovers, four of which came in the final two minutes of the game as the Hilltoppers went on an 11-3 run.

“They were playing pretty aggressive defense,” Learnard said. “We handled it OK for the most part, but sometimes we let it get to us. It was a good learning point for us tonight to just handle the ball better.”

The Hilltoppers’ schedule won’t get much easier as they are next scheduled to face Bismarck-Henning on Friday while Salt Fork takes on Oakwood.

Wins in their next three contests against Oakwood, Georgetown-Ridge Farm, and Chrisman will set up key contests at the end of the season against Bismarck-Henning and Westville. But though winning the VVC title is among the Storm’s list of goals, they realize even bigger goals loom beyond the regular season.

“We have it in the back of our mind, but really, we just want to play one game at a time,” Learnard said. “Really, at the end of the day, we just want to be ready for that regional when it comes around. It’s in the back of our minds, of course, but we really have to get ready for the postseason.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - CN0730 - Dans baseball photo 1 Dans continue to struggle DANVILLE — The Danville Dans haven’t exactly been playing their best baseball in the second half of the season. After taking the West Division title in the first half with a 19-11 record, Danville has played sub-.500 baseball in the second half and c

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0730 - Illini football media photo Experienced Illini looking for success CHICAGO — Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Tim Beckman is hoping that the third time is the charm.Beckman begins his third season at the helm of the Illini, and with the nucleus of last season’s team returning, it may finally be time for Illinois

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - CN0730 - Purdue football media photo Hazell hopes for smooth second season CHICAGO — After a season to forget in 2013, Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell is expecting better results as his team begins training camp next week. Hazell spoke to the media during the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days at the Hilton Chicago, and afte

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Calendar TODAYProspect League BaseballHannibal Cavemen at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.THURSDAYProspect League BaseballWest Virginia Miners at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.Local TennisMcTagertt Tennis Tournament at North Montgomery, 3:30 p.m.FRIDAYLocal TennisMcTagertt

    July 30, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Dustbowl photo 2 Repeat performance Championship Sunday was in full swing at the 42nd Annual Dustbowl at David S. Palmer Arena. In the men’s division it was defending champions Leek & Sons against the Hickory Beavers. Leek & Sons made it back to back championships with a 29-point victo

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0729 - Brickyard photo Gordon kisses 'The Bricks' for 5th time INDIANAPOLIS — The common gift for a 20th anniversary is either china or platinum.But for Jeff Gordon on Sunday, he was more interested in the PPG Trophy made of gold, sterling silver and alloy aluminum and the native of Pittsboro, Ind., wasn’t going

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Old friends meet again in city tourney DANVILLE — Gene Gourley and Bryan Stine have a lot of history on the tennis court. The two of them, who have been playing each other at the Danville Tennis Center for over 20 years, renewed their rivalry again on Sunday during the Greater Danville Ar

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Junior Dustbowl photo Free throws decide junior Dustbowl title DANVILLE — In the boys’s Division it was DV Stars vs. Squad for the Championship with the Squad coming back from an early 16-point deficit to beat DV Stars 59-55 in overtime. Squads Parker Lee made one of two free throws with 18 seconds left in regul

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Keys leads College Girls to Dustbowl title The girls division championship between County Girls and College Girls was a close battle between two fine teams. The College Girls never trailed in the second half and squeaked out a victory over the County Girls 32-29.After a timeout was called by

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Big Ten Media mug Big Ten unveils new look CHICAGO — Welcome to the new look Big Ten.The Big Ten Conference held its 43rd annual Football Media Days on Monday at the Hilton Chicago and in the first day of the two day event, a lot of different topics were discussed, and a few more concepts fo

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

E-edition
NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014


Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

Must Read
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth