BY CHAD DARE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DANVILLE — Oakwood junior Delaney Durst had a career night with 24 points and a tournament-high 23 rebounds to lead the Comets to a 44-28 victory over the Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers on Wednesday night in the Vermilion County Tournament at the David S. Palmer Arena.
Durst scored 16 of her game-high 24 points in the second half and she pulled down 15 of her rebounds in the final 16 minutes.
“That’s one of her best games that she has had ll year,’’ said Oakwood coach Jeff Ford. “They were really focused on stopping her in the paint, so she struggled early.
“As we pulled her away from the basket in the second half, she was able to get into the flow of the game.’’
While Durst was extremely shocked with her performance, she was very pleased in how her team played against Hoopeston Area.
“I didn’t even know that I had that many points or rebounds,’’ she said. “I honestly don’t know what to say about it, but I know that we worked a lot better as a team and our chemistry was really good tonight.
“I know that pumped me up and I’m sure that it pumped up my teammates as well.’’
Oakwood, which improved to 3-18 with the victory, won its first Vermilion County Tournament game in two seasons.
“This is what I’ve expected to see all year,’’ Ford said. “We’ve put three quarter of a game together this year, but we’ve either not finished a game or not started very well.
“We are still building things right now and this was a good step.’’
The Comets also advance to Friday’s final night with the victory as Oakwood will play Westville in the fifth-place game at 5 p.m.
“That was one of our goals this year, we didn’t want to be sitting at home on Friday night,’’ Ford said. “I think the girls had more energy on both ends of the floor, because this was a big deal for them.
“They were driven, because they did want to tonight to be our final game in the County Tournament.’’
Oakwood was playing without sophomore forward Kylie Harden, who was on crutches Wednesday night. Durst admitted that she had to pick up her game with Harden unable to play and the Comets also got a big contribution from freshman Ellie Huchel, who had eight third-quarter points and she also pulled down eight rebounds in the game.
“Ellie Huchel, a freshman, came in and provided us with some really good minutes,’’ Ford said. “She gives us a little size and that’s something we needed with Kylie unable to play.’’
He also pointed out that junior guard Sadie Edwards was big, handling the ball against the Hoopeston Area pressure defense in the second half. Edwards had four assists to go along with five rebounds, two steals and three points.
Additionally, Ford was very pleased with his team’s ability to knock down free throws. The Comets were 19-of-25 at the foul line in the game and they were 14-of-18 in the second half.
“The whole team was hitting their free throws in the second half, that was really big as well,’’ Ford said.
Hoopeston Area, which falls to 6-15 on the season, shot just 16.7 percent (9-of-54) in the game and the Comets were 4-of-24 from 3-point range.
Tori Smock and Haley Dixon shared team-high scoring honors with eight points each, Smock also had a game-high nine rebounds for the Cornjerkers.