BROADLANDS — The next time Salt Fork practices, coach Aaron Hird is going to have something to back him up when he barks the importance of making free throws to his players.
At the Hayden's Classic this week, Hird's Storm and Georgetown-Ridge Farm each went 4-0 in the Heritage pool. Since the Storm and Buffaloes didn't meet head to head in pool play, the berth in tonight's championship game was awarded to the team with the best free throw percentage in the tournament. Salt Fork hit 69 percent of its foul shots. G-RF made 60 percent.
"I wasn't sure what was going to happen because we were 2 for 8 (from the free throw line) in the fourth quarter," Hird said. "But we always stress the importance of free throws whether that's on the line or not."
The Storm picked up wins against Villa Grove (63-32) and Heritage (50-44) to earn a spot in the championship game against Fisher, which upset Bismarck-Henning 45-43 to win the other pool. Salt Fork is seeking its fifth straight Hayden's Classic championship.
"With these guys, this is such a brand new group, we have one kid (David Sacre) who had any varsity experience coming into the year," Hird said. "We're starting over. We don't want to be trying to live on past success, we want these kids to find their own success."
The Storm found success against the host Hawks on Wednesday with a balanced scoring attack. Ross Learnard led the way with 16 points and Alec Dutton added 12. Max Stutsman (nine) and Sacre (eight) also contributed.
Against the Blue Devils, it was more of the same. Dutton led with 18, Stutsman had 16 and Learnard added 10.
Fisher is playing for the championship after knocking off Bismarck-Henning, which is coached by former Fisher boss Deon Mennenga. Dylan Chapman scored a game-high 23 points for the Bunnies, who also got 10 from Hans Carmien. Tanner Ribbe, who scored 25 points for B-H in a 49-39 win against Clifton Central earlier in the day, scored 12 against Fisher.
Chapman had 14 in a 60-49 win against Schlarman on Wednesday and Taw Fredrickson added 18.
Georgetown-Ridge Farm 66, Heritage 46. Korie Vire scored 21 points to lead the Buffaloes in their first game of the day. He added 15 in a 65-50 win against Shioh. Matt Hay had 25 against the Raiders and Andy Cravens contributed 16.
Oakwood 62, Grant Park 38. Kyle Elliott (19 points), Cameron Lee (17) and Skyler Slade (12) led a balanced scoring attack for the Comets. Lee (17) and Slade (12) led the Comets to a 44-41 win against Clifton Central later in the day.
Schlarman 53, Grant Park 45. Alec Neal led all scorers with 24 points to lead the Hilltoppers.
Shiloh 70, Atwood-Hammond 59. Cyrus Ferguson led the Raiders with 15 points and Kaleb Hood added 12. Andy Webb and Jordan Feagin each scored 15 for Atwood-Hammond.
Villa Grove 78, Atwood-Hammond 68. Rayn Pearce and Gabe Palmer each scored 18 points and Caleb Montgomery added 16 to lift the Blue Devils. Andy Webb had 14 to lead Atwood-Hammond.