By SHAWN YORKS
• Daily Leader
HOOKER, Okla. — Hooker boys coach Bud Valerius and his Bulldogs might not have set out to prove anything on Tuesday night, but they did. Hooker’s 58-35 win over Turpin was the second straight win over a team that has made a state tournament appearance in recent years.
“Anytime you get a win over some of our rivals around here, it’s big,” Valerius said. “I thought our win last Friday against another good team, Texhoma, played a big part in that. These kids are starting to play with a little confidence.”
The Bulldogs put on a defensive clinic against the Cardinals, running a full-court press most of the game. Turpin — which lost its top seven players off last year’s state quarterfinalist — just couldn’t handle it.
“Everybody that I have is brand new to the situation,” said Turpin head coach Gary Wallace. “This is the first time we’ve been shown a little defensive pressure and we didn’t handle it very well.”
The Bulldogs opened the game with a 10-2 run as the Cardinals (2-1) seemed shell-shocked. Alex Sanchez, Chad Kennedy, J.D. Ingland and Joe Bean led the initial surge, which featured four steals by the Bulldogs.
But Hooker committed several careless turnovers, and Turpin was able to pull to within four at the end of the first period, and took a brief lead early in the second.
“I thought early we were very careless with the basketball,” Valerius said. “Some careless turnovers kept them in the game.”
Two straight baskets by Francisco Regalado and a free throw by Edgar Anchondo pulled Turpin to within four at 14-10 after one. A steal and a hoop by Bradley Kinser cut it to 15-12 before Regalado put one in to make it 15-14 Hooker.
Down 17-14, two straight put-backs by Allen Keene gave Turpin an 18-17 advantage with 5:10 to go in the half.
It would be Turpin’s only lead.
Guerrero Garcia gave Hooker the lead back to spark an 8-3 run to end the first half.
The Bulldogs went on a 23-4 run in the third quarter to put the Cardinals away.
“In the second half, we kind of wore them down a little bit and were mentally tough with the basketball,” Valerius said. “And it showed on the scoreboard.”
The Bulldogs enter the Blue and Red Classic in Hugoton this weekend feeling cnfident they can compete against a tough field. And maybe the rest of the area will see the new-look Dogs and show a little respect?
“I don’t really care about the respect, I care about these kids getting better.,” Valerius said. “That’s what they’re doing, they’re really getting better every single day.”
Hooker opens play in the Blue and Red Classic Thursday at 8:15 a.m. against Hugoton.
As for the Cardinals, they head to the Laverne Tournament and a date with the hosts on Thursday.
“I’m not worried about the competition,” Wallace said. “We’ve got to get better ourselves.”