By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
HOOKER, OKLA. – The shots were falling early and often for the Hooker Bulldogs who rushed out to a 20- lead over the visiting Tyrone Bobcats. The 66-23 win improved the Bulldogs record to 8-1 with only Stratford, Texas the Friday left on the schedule before Christmas break.
“We got off to a great start, which haven’t done much of lately, which was nice,” said Hooker coach Bud Valerius. “ Joe (Bean) set the pace early by hitting some big shots, but it was our defense that got us going. We made them take some tough shots, and they didn’t shoot the ball great either. I’ve seen them shoot much better.
Hooker’s full-court pressure and athleticism gave Tyrone fits, caused turnovers, and, in part caused misses on shots they would normally make. At the offensive end, it was Joe Bean who set the pace scoring 13 of his 17 points in the first period.
“Their defense effected us, and sometimes that effects your shot,” said Tyrone coach Clay Witt. “We had some easy shots we just couldn’t hit them, and that happens sometimes. A lot of it was we didn’t move on offense, and we were standing still. We’ve got to get where we’re more comfortable when we are being pressured. We’ll try to forget about this one and move on.”
After the shell-shock of falling behind 20-0, Tyrone calmed down, and were only outscored 18-12 the rest of the half, which left Hooker leading comfortably, 38-12. Even with the big lead Valerius was not pleased with one aspect of his team’s play.
“I thought we were a little too worried about how we were playing as an individual, instead of as a team,” said Valerius. “It was in our body language, and we were not picking up teammates. We talked a lot about how we carry ourselves. I thought we came out in the second have and responded to that and played our best ball of the night.”
In the third quarter is was Payson Slater’s turn to take over the offensive end for the Bulldogs. Slater scored 13 of his game-high 20 in the third quarter, including the three-point capper with nine seconds left that pushed the lead to 39.
“That’s good for us to see the pressure Hooker brings,” said Witt. “We haven’t seen a whole lot of that, especially with the athleticism they have. The next time we face a school our size we’re going to have a leg up because we’ve seen some really good pressure from some athletic players.”
As a team Hooker was also lethal from distance, hitting seven shots from beyond the arc. Three of those came from Alex Sanchez, who finished the game with 11 points. Tyrone was led in scoring by Austin Olivas.