By JASON EPP
• Daily Leader
BEAVER, Okla. — As is often the case with smaller schools where most athletes play multiple sports, the early transition from the gridiron to the hardwood is not a smooth one. But a senior laden Beaver Dusters team scrapped out a win over the young Hooker Bulldogs, 37-31.
“Not surprising, I thought it was very ugly on both sides as the score would indicate,” said new Bulldogs head coach Bud Valerius. “They only had a week of practice, and we only had two putting in a new system, so it was a lot of learning on the fly.”
Beaver head coach Brian Stalder felt much the same way.
“It was probably about as ugly a win as you can get, but we'll take it and move on,” Stalder said. “Hopefully we will get the rust knocked off.”
The two teams combined to make 24-of-74 shots from the field, and 15-of-31 from the charity stripe.
With 5:34 left in the fourth Cole Trippet (11 points) scored to give the Dusters a 33-25 lead. But just three minutes later, after Hooker’s Alex Sanchez got a steal and scored, the lead was cut to two at, 33-31.
“Our half-court offense is non-existent, so later in the game we turned it up a notch,” Valerius said. We're short on numbers so we couldn’t do that the whole game, but we got some easy buckets out of it.”
Beaver had helped Hooker crawl back by failing at the free throw line, missing eight in a row, including the front end of three straight one-and-ones. But the Dusters managed to hit four of their last five free throws in the final minute, including three straight by Samuel Becker (10 points), to extend a two-point lead to the final margin of six.
“We sure made things tougher on ourselves because we couldn’t make the easy ones,” Stalder said. “I felt like our effort was good. We've been in the gym four days, and things just aren't going to be as pretty as you'd like.”
It did not help the Bulldogs that their top two scorers in the game, Sanchez and Joe Bean (9 points each), fouled out when they needed a bucket.
Other than trailing 2-0 for less than thirty seconds early in the game, Beaver never trailed, thanks in part to three treys by three different Dusters that helped build a 17-10 lead midway through the second quarter.
Valerius took the loss in stride knowing the season is a long one.
“Lot of missed shots, lot of turnovers, but both teams competed to the very end. Early in the season, that's all I can ask for,” he said.
Beaver (1-0) will play next Tuesday at Buffalo, while Hooker will host Booker, Texas the same night.