Salt Fork connects on all cylinders
BROADLANDS — The firing line at Salt Fork features shooters from all ranges.
Max Stutsman and Alec Dutton handle the short-range attempts, and Cole Taylor is deadly from the perimeter.
It leads to a potent arsenal that unfurled all weapons Thursday in a first-round game at the BSN Basketball Classic at Heritage High School.
The Storm (11-1 and ranked sixth in Class 1A) shot down Shiloh 70-50 behind the prowess of Stutsman (11 of 13 from the field), Dutton (7 of 9) and Taylor (also 7 of 9, including 3 of 4 on three-pointers). The trio combined for 58 points.
“When you’re balanced it’s not about finding one particular guy on the court,” first-year Storm coach Andrew Johnson said. “We’ve emphasized making the extra pass and being unselfish.”
The attitude Johnson seeks, he said, is, “I may be open but find someone who is more open.”
Johnson was a late hire at his alma mater — returning to the area after a four-year stint as the girls’ basketball coach at Wilmington — and didn’t have the summer to instill his philosophies. It’s been a learn-on-the-go process.
“I came in the week before football (practice),” he said. “There was no time to do anything in the summer.”
Thankfully, he said, former coach Aaron Hird left a team with talent.
“It has been a day-to-day thing,” Johnson said. “The success is a testament to the program that was left for me to take over.”
Credit goes to Johnson for not revamping everything that was done in the past.
“Defensively, myself and Coach Hird have similar principles, and that has made it easier for the kids to adjust,” Johnson said.
“Offensively, there are some similar concepts, and that has made it a smooth transition.
“The group was talented. It was a matter of putting things together. We need to stay hungry and keep getting better.”
Stutsman had a double-double (25 points, 11 rebounds) against the Raiders, one of the area’s most improved teams. Taylor added 17 points, and Dutton had 16.
Sophomore Andrew Donithan led Shiloh with 17 points and five rebounds. Sophomore Cyrus Furgeson had 13 points.
Salt Fork 58, Heritage 47
Ross Learnard poured in 15 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Storm pulled away from the host Hawks and joined Decatur Lutheran (7-4) as the only teams to go 2-0 Thursday at the Heritage site.
It was the third win of the season for Salt Fork against the Hawks, who were led by John Taylor’s 23 points and eight rebounds.
“Heritage has two very skilled and athletic post players, and our guards needed to step up,” Johnson said. “We talked to the guards about taking the ball to the basket and either dishing off or scoring and finishing.”
Learnard had nine first-period points as Salt Fork jumped to a 16-7 lead. The team maintained the lead, though Heritage pulled within 32-31 on a breakaway by Jordan Wolf in the final minute of the third quarter.
Stutsman had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Shiloh 65, Villa Grove 46
Donithan provided the early offensive fireworks for the Raiders, scoring the team’s first eight points. By halftime, Villa Grove was unable to catch up to him, trailing 32-8. Donithan had 17 of his game-high 23 points by intermission.
“He is getting so much better around the basket,” Shiloh coach Charlie Carver said. “He has a nice drop step he can finish with. He’s tough to guard because he’s fairly mobile.”
Junior John Haynes added 13 points for Shiloh (7-5).
For the second straight game, VG was led in scoring by a freshman, but it was a different one than in the team’s tourney opener. Gilbert Nieto scored 11 points. Junior Noah Palmer had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Decatur Lutheran 64, Georgetown-Ridge Farm 30
The Buffaloes, who graduated nine seniors from last season’s team, never led against a Decatur Lutheran squad that made half of its shots (25 of 50).
“Consistency has been a big deal,” G-RF coach Adam Latoz said. “When we play good for four quarters, we’re in most games.”
Kyle Coburn led the Buffaloes (1-10) with eight points. Freshman teammate Matt Penry cleared six rebounds. Coburn and Dylan Bina are the lone G-RF players who had appreciable playing time a year ago.
Decatur Lutheran 71, Villa Grove 44
Villa Grove is relying on underclassmen in coach Brian Russell’s first year of rebuilding the program.
“From where we started to where we are, we’ve made great strides,” Russell said. “The kids are taking what we’re working on and applying it to games. We’re taking little steps.”
Freshman Brandon Koeberlein led the Blue Devils (1-8) with 11 points. Gabe Palmer, the team’s only senior, added nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.
“We’re making strides toward what we want to do,” Russell said.
Watseka 43, Schlarman 39
Austin Blair and Daulton DePatis each scored 10 points for the Warriors. Blair scored eight of his points in the second quarter, and DePatis went 10 of 12 from the free throw line. Schlarman got a game-high 16 points from Andrew Kelley.
Bismarck-Henning 61, Oakwood 49
The host Blue Devils stormed to a 16-5 lead after the first quarter behind Austin Toler, who scored 10 of his team-high 24 points in the opening period for B-H in Jon Clapp’s first game since replacing Deon Mennenga as head coach earlier this week. Austin Reinken added 17 points for B-H, which got eight apiece from Wilde Garowski and Andy Bott. Parker Lee poured in a game-high 27 points to lead the Comets, who got 16 from Skyler Slade.
Schlarman 50, Clifton Central 47
Austin Calhoun scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to power the Hilltoppers, who got 10 points apiece from Chris Kuchefski and Michael Simmons.
Watseka 52, Oakwood 50
Austin Hasselbring, Justin Moyer and DePatis all scored 10 points apiece to pace the Warriors. Lee had 19 and Slade added 17 for the Comets.
B-H 64, Grant Park 43
Toler (20 points) and Bott (17 points) each had three treys in the victory. B-H led 35-16 at halftime.