Herbert Hoover's Cody Morris defends a shot by Scott's Cody Brown.
FALLING ROCK, W.Va. -- Herbert Hoover played a practically perfect first half Tuesday night, but it nearly wasn't enough.The Huskies developed an untimely rash of turnovers against Scott's manic pressure defense in the second half, but managed to hold on for a 55-47 Cardinal Conference victory.Cody Morris, a versatile 6-foot-6 senior, helped right Hoover's ship as it began to take on all sorts of water. He finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.Aaron Burdette scored a dozen points for the Huskies (7-3, 3-2) and Joey Forbes nearly added another double-double (10 points, nine rebounds).It was the third straight loss for the Skyhawks (8-3, 5-3), who started last week as the No. 1 team in Class AA, but have since dropped to No. 3."I'm proud of the effort our kids gave tonight,'' said Hoover coach Jeff Gandee. "We tell them everything else will fall into place if you have the effort.''Everything was clicking for the Huskies at the outset. They built a 34-18 lead at halftime with impeccable basketball, shooting 71 percent (15 of 21), committing only two turnovers and two fouls and outrebounding Scott 12-10.
"We've been focusing on defense the last two practices before this game,'' said Scott coach Nick Cabell, "but we didn't play defense in the first half. We gave them way too much space and got nothing from the help side. They knocked down just about everything they put up.''The lead even grew as high as 18 to start the third quarter as Hoover again hit its first two shots. But then it got dicey for the home side as the Skyhawks' relentless defense began to force mistake after mistake.Hoover turned it over seven times in the third quarter and 11 more times in the fourth for a total of 20.The Skyhawks shaved that deficit all the way back to a two-possession game at 49-43 on an Eric May jumper from the foul line with three minutes left and 51-45 on two May free throws with 1:25 to go. Scott stole another inbound pass right after that, but missed two good looks at the basket.
Hoover was also a bit shaky at the foul line, going 7 of 15 in the final quarter, but Forbes made a pair with 43 seconds left and Josh Blackwell two more in the final moments."We got a little too comfortable in the second half,'' Morris said. "We played a little conservative and got wild with the ball. We have a tendency to do that - turn the ball over. Every day in practice, coach preaches, 'Turnovers, turnover, turnovers - limit them.' Because every game we've lost, they've bit us in the butt, every single one.''Scott wound up swiping the ball 13 times."We were causing a little bit of havoc,'' Cabell said, "but you can't do that the whole game because your kids will wear out. But we did scratch and claw in the second half.''
May led the Skyhawks with 19 points and Matt Dolan added 13, with Anthony Sigmon grabbing six rebounds.Gandee didn't want to lose sight of the fact his team did turn in a sharp first half, even though it unraveled some later."The best half we've played all year against anybody,'' he said. "We tried to make sure we understood the situation in the second half. We just didn't do a very good job of protecting the ball when we needed to. We didn't respond well in that situation."But we kept playing defense and kept playing hard. Scott didn't quit - they're too well-coached and their kids have too much desire to win. They gave us their best shot. They took us out of our offense in the second half. We tried to be a little more patient and burn as much clock as we can, but we made some bad decisions and took some shots we didn't need to be taking.''Hoover ended at 61 percent shooting (22 of 36) with a 33-29 rebounding edge.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.