By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
Any concerns that the Hilldale Hornets would take the Keys Cougars lightly were put to rest in the second quarter of Saturday’s game.
After easing out to a 17-10 advantage after the first eight minutes, the Hornets clamped and limited the Cougars to nine points in the next two quarters on their way to a 68-38 win at the Hilldale Event Center.
Hilldale (3-5) limited Keys (1-8) to two points in the second quarter and seven in the third. Hilldale coach Jeremy Rogers said it took both the offense and defense to get going.
“It was a little shaky at the start,” he said. “We missed a couple of easy shots and a free throw or two in the first four or five minutes. I thought the defense picked up alot, forced some turnovers and got out in transition. I thought we finished the first quarter well and the second and third quarters were sharp.”
The Cougars shot only 5 of 16 (31.2 percent) in the first half compared to the Hornets who made 13 of their 25 shots (52 percent).
Keys coach Duane Jones attributed some of the team’s performance to fatigue, coming off an 83-27 loss to Fort Gibson on Friday.
“We looked a little tired,” he said, one day after missing his team’s contest against Fort Gibson due to his wife being hospitalized.
“I thought we were OK when we were at 14-10. Then (Hilldale) kind of went on a run and we just kind of laid down. We’re super young and we’ve just got to learn to play hard when things aren’t going well.”
Offensively for the Hornets in the first half, it seemed like a two-man game as Bill Muse Jr. and Derek Altman combined for 26 of Hilldale’s 37 points. Muse said this allowed the two to spread the ball around for others to score.
“Once me and Derek got hot, we tried to find other people,” he said. “I thought we did a great job of that early. We got guys open and found spots them.”
Muse led the Hornets with 19 points and Altman had 14 while Coby Ward led the Cougars with 11 points.
The Hornets’ defense fed off that offense’s performance and forced the Cougars to win the game from the outside.
“That was our game plan coming in,” Muse said. “Make them hit the outside shots and pressure the ball. We have to keep getting better every game.”
Hilldale 50, Keys 36
Even an ugly win is a win and that sums up the Lady Hornets’ victory over the Lady Cougars.
Hilldale (6-4) committed 15 turnovers while Keys (5-4) turned the ball over 18 times. Even the shooting percentages were nothing to write home about at the Lady Hornets hit on only 42.1 percent of their shots (16 of 38) while the Lady Cougars could make only 33 percent of their shots (13 of 39).
“The defense played harder after the first quarter,’ said Hilldale coach Scott Hensley. “We weren’t ready to play but we did step up when we needed to.”
The Lady Cougars led after the first quarter 13-10 and all 13 points were courtesy of Sydni Rainbolt. Those would be the only points she would score until converting a free throw with 5:01 remaining, before fouling out with 54.2 seconds left and finishing with 14 points to lead Keys.
“We quit doing what we were supposed to do,” said Keys coach Mickey Duncan. “We quit running our offense. We ran it early in the ball game and we’ve go to grow up and mature and we’ve got to stick with what we’re supposed to do.”
After the first eight minutes, the Lady Hornets took control, outscoring the Lady Cougars 15-10 to grab a 25-20 lead at intermission. Hilldale would stretch its lead to 37-23 at the end of the third and keep that margin through the fourth quarter.
Katie Kirkhart led the Lady Hornets with 16 points while McKensie Plant finished with 13 points. Plant said there was alot to learn from the win
“We build on the mistakes we made,” she said. “We need to hook up and pick up our game.”