DANVILLE — It’s a pretty simple concept — good ball movement leads to good shots.
On Monday night at the Vermilion County Tournament, the Salt Fork Storm executed their offense very efficiently with 10 assists on 19 baskets as they defeated the Oakwood Comets 46-22
Salt Fork sophomore Jenny Kimbro finished with a game-high 18 points, but she also contributed a game-high three assists as well.
“We’ve been focusing on ball movement to get some easier shots for the post players,’’ said Kimbro, who is averaging 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and 2.5 steals per game in the Vermilion County Tournament. “We are trying to get as many layups as we can get.’’
Salt Fork coach Jeff Carleton acknowledges that every offense would like to have an assist on every basket.
“We want to share the ball and play as a team,’’ he said.
But, he points out that good ball movement does take its toll on a defensive team.
“We like to play defense, but when you make a team play defense for 30 seconds or more, they can get a little bored,’’ he said. “That’s when you get the best shots for your offense.’’
Oakwood coach Jeff Ford admitted that Salt Fork’s ability to make shots from the perimeter with Kimbro was a big difference in the contest.
“The last couple of times that we’ve played them, they have struggled from the outside,’’ Ford said. “(Kimbro) was lighting it up tonight and there was nothing we could do about that.’’
But, the biggest problem for the Comets (2-18) on Monday night was their own inability to shoot the basketball.
Oakwood was a dismal 1-of-13 from the field in the first half, and the Comets didn’t shoot much better at the free-throw line, going just 4-of-11 in the first half as the Storm held a 26-7 lead.
“It’s tough to win a game when you can’t put the ball in the basket,’’ said Ford, whose team wound up shooting 21.9 percent (7-of-32) for the game. “When I was watching them warm up, our assistant coaches (Stephanie Marsh and Lynn Anderson) pointed out that they were making all their shots in warm-ups.
“With no school on Monday (Martin Luther King Day) we were worried that they probably sat around all day. I think that was a little bit of it, because this wasn’t our normal routine.’’
It’s the second straight game that Salt Fork has held its opponents to less than 30 percent shooting in the Vermilion County Tournament. On Saturday, Hoopeston Area made just 7-of-29 shots in a 31-19 loss to the Storm.
“Our defense has done a nice job,’’ Carleton said. “We want to put as much pressure on our opponents as we can. I’ve got a lot of quick kids that can defend and we also have some kids that play phenomenal help defense. To limit a team to about 20 points is all a coach can ask for from his team.’’
Not only is defense a factor in the poor shooting, but so is the spacious background at the Palmer Arena.
Salt Fork (13-8) solved some of those problems as they made almost 40 percent of its shots on Monday after shooting just 21.7 percent on Saturday.
“I think they finally realized that these baskets are 10-foot high just like every other gym that we’ve played in this season,’’ Carleton said. “They settled down tonight and got the nerves out.’’
With the victory, the Storm are just one win away from reaching the Vermilion County Tournament championship game. Salt Fork will play Bismarck-Henning at 8 p.m. for the Pool B championship.
“The last time that we won the County Tournament was 13 years ago,’’ said Kimbro as Salt Fork was the champions in 2001. “We think it’s our turn to win it, and we want to do whatever it takes to get to the title game, and then win it.’’
The Oakwood Comets are guaranteed one more game in the Vermilion County Tournament. They will play the Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers in a 5 p.m. game on Wednesday with the winner advancing to Friday’s fifth-place game and the loser will be eliminated.
Sadie Edwards and Joellyn Weaver shared game-high scoring honros for Oakwood with five points each, Edwards also had 10 rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Kimbro was the only Salt Fork player in double digits. Logan Sanford had eight points and eight rebounds, while Emilie McFadden finished with seven points and five rebounds.