Hooker takes home championship PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 12 December 2011 10:40

By JASON EPP
Leader & Times

HUGOTON-Fast starts at the beginning of both halves, and tough defense throughout the game were the key components to the Hooker Bulldogs bringing home the championship trophy of the Blue and Red Classic after defeating tournament host Hugoton, 46-20 in the finals.

"That's why we play; to win championships," said Hooker coach Bud Valerius. "We've talked about that from day one. I thought we really focused from the get-go we set the tone. I though that first quarter we were focused, we were ready. Defensively we did a great job of taking them out of everything they ran. That's a good 4A ball club we beat tonight."

Hooker took a 10-2 lead after tournament MVP, Payson Slater, hit a three and a layup of consecutive possessions with 3:57 left in the first quarter.  Hugoton hit a buzzer-beater to end the quarter, but still trailed 16-6. Even though Hugoton continued to stay within striking distance, Hooker looked as though they could bust the game wide open at any moment if they could just make the shots under the basket.

"We've struggled at times to finish, but we're getting better," said Valerius. "When we do hit those shots we're really good, and when we don't we're really average. If we would have made those shots in the first half we might have not had to fight so hard in the second half."

The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 5:50 left in the second quarter,  but did not score again until the final shot of the half. Hooker led 21-12 at the break.

The Bulldogs started the second half much like they had the first half, on a run. But this time the shots were falling. Hooker dominated the third with a 15-2 that was capped when Slater hit Alex Sanchez cutting through the lane on a break to put them up 36-14 with 1:20 left in the third.

Any hopes of a comeback were dashed by Hooker's suffocating defense that held Hugoton to just three points in the fourth quarter, and had not allowed more than six in any quarter.

"We kept getting stronger, and I thought in the second half we imposed our will," said Valerius. "We win and lose as a team, and obviously to hold them to 20 points shows it was a total team effort."

Hooker spread their scoring out between seven players with Payson Slater leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 11 points. Alex Sanchez, who was named to the all-tournament team, scored eight, and Joe Bean added 7.

Hooker is now 7-1, and will host Tyrone Tuesday.

 

 
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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press.

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