By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
With four minutes left in the third quarter the Hooker Bulldogs had just increased their lead to 37-31 over Pond Creek-Hunter. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs it also marked the beginning of a scoring drought that saw them only score four points over the final 12 minutes as Pond Creek-Hunter advanced to the finals of the Cherokee Invitational with a 49-41 win.
“We kind of shelled up and couldn’t hit our shots,” Hooker coach Bud Valerius said. “They are a really good defensive ball club. They pushed us out from where we wanted to catch the ball.” Hooker started the game slow, and trailed 12-7 at the end of the first quarter. Pond Creek-Hunter increased their lead to 10 early in the second, but Hooker cut the lead to just two, 26-24, by halftime. Hooker went on an 11-5 run to start the second half before the wheels fell off. Pond Creek-Hunter outscored the Bulldogs 19-4 to finish the game.
“It was a combination of good defense on their part and poor execution on our part,” Valerius said. “We shot the ball too quickly, and didn’t show enough patience on offense, and we stopped attacking the rim.”
Hooker was 8 of 12 from the free throw line, which is well below their season average in makes and attempts. Joe Bean was the Bulldogs top scorer with 12, and Payson Slater tallied 11.
Hooker faced Deer Creek-Lamont, who lost to Burlington, for third place Saturday.