DANVILLE — Hoopeston Area boys basketball coach Matt Colston was very precise in his assessment of how his Cornjerkers were able to turn a rough first half against the Oakwood Comets into a win in their opening game of the 2014 Vermilion County basketball tournament.
“We played less awful,” Colston said of his team’s performance in the second half of Saturday’s 59-52 win over the Comets. “We just did not play well at all tonight. I thought we were very soft physically.
“I just thought we played terrible. I think you have to credit Oakwood a little bit because Oakwood came out and was physical with us. I thought they played well today. Part of the reason we didn’t play well was because Oakwood did.”
The Comets forced the Cornjerkers to turn the ball over on four of their first five possessions of the game. The only time in the first two-and-a-half minutes they did not turn it over, they missed a shot. It wasn’t until the 5:20 mark of the first quarter that Hoopeston Area finally got on the board on a basket by senior guard Daniel Lawson (eight points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals).
Mason Layden later hit back-to-back threes as part of a 10-2 run in the second quarter to give the Cornjerkers a 23-15 lead. It seemed as though Hoopeston Area had taken control, but Oakwood responded with a 17-3 run of its own that lasted nearly seven minutes of game time from the second quarter into the third. Oakwood senior Skyler Slade scored eight of his game high 20 points during the stretch.
The Cornjerkers, however, didn’t let up and closed out the third quarter on a 19-6 run to take a 42-38 lead. Brennan Crose hit a clutch three with 4:46 to go in the period to give Hoopeston Area its final lead of the game at 33-32. Layden and Nathan Michael followed with consecutive threes.