Extra work pays off for Salt Fork
DANVILLE — Aaron Hird deviated from his normal routine.
"We don't normally practice on game day," the Salt Fork boys' basketball coach said, "but we needed one."
The Storm entered the 93rd Vermilion County tournament as the three-time defending champion but suffered a quarterfinal loss Saturday. Monday night, with captains Alec Dutton and David Sacre leading the way, Salt Fork bounced back with a 64-39 triumph against Hoopeston Area.
"There were some lulls, but we had some solid minutes," Hird said.
More than getting back on the court Monday morning for a workout, Hird wanted to deliver a message.
"We talked about moving on," he said. "We had a good practice this morning."
After 19 games, he doesn't consider youth an excuse, yet the roster shows one senior (Sacre) and two juniors (Dutton and Clayton Fauver).
Dutton scored a game-high 19 points. Three teammates joined him in double figures. Max Stutsman had 11 points. Sacre and Ross Learnard each scored 10.
The Storm (12-7) won't dwell on Monday's victory at Palmer Arena.
"Our football team has a saying, which has become our motto," Hird said. "We ask, 'What is the most important play?' and the kids answer, 'the next one.' "
Salt Fork's next game is in Saturday's 5 p.m. fifth-place game.
Mason Layden led Hoopeston Area with 14 points and seven rebounds.
In girls' action:
Georgetown-Ridge Farm 37, Westville 32. Brittany Hay scored 13 points and Alyssa Sawyer had 11 as the Buffaloes extended their season mastery against the Tigers to four games. The last three games in the series have been decided by eight total points.
"Some things we did today with transition and defense, we haven't been doing, so in that respect it was a much better game," Georgetown-Ridge Farm coach Michelle Brooks said.
Emilee James kept the Tigers in contention with team-high totals of 10 points and nine rebounds.
The teams traded leads six times in the first quarter before the Buffaloes (12-8) took the lead for good, 10-9, on a basket by Maya Green 13 seconds before the quarter ended.
With a day off from school Monday, G-RF was able to practice and put Saturday's quarterfinal loss in the past.
"Once we got back in the gym, they put it behind them," Brooks said. "That was easier for them than it was for me."
Callan Hall had eight rebounds for G-RF.
Oakwood 41, Hoopeston Area 31. Makenzie Baker had a double-double at halftime, and the Comets built a 20-point fourth-quarter lead before hanging on to advance to Friday's fifth-place game against G-RF.
Oakwood endured an eight-turnover scoreless spell of 6:47 in the final quarter during which time the Cornjerkers scored 12 straight points to cut their deficit to 39-31.
"We played well enough to build that 20-point lead," Oakwood coach Rick Bough said. "That has to be our focus."
Baker had 19 points, 17 rebounds and seven steals. She had 15 points and 13 rebounds at halftime.
"Their major focus was on her the second half," Bough said. "Brooke Kinney did a nice job on her defensively."
Harlena Hardin had 16 rebounds and Makayla Stark 10 points for Oakwood (9-13). Shelby Holzinger and Kaaryn Wyss each had six points for Hoopeston.