By JASON EPP
Often times in sports the difference between winning and losing are the adjustments you make. The Turpin Cardinals made the right adjustments on defense in the second half, holding Hugoton to only four field goals to win 56-40.
“We got really wide in our zone defense, we expanded out,” said Cardinal coach Gary Wallace. “We like to do that against a good three point shooting team. We took that away second half. As long as our runouts are good they can’t penetrate either. There was only a few times we were late getting out for threes. If we at least contest them, were happy.”
Hugoton looked the part of spoiler at the tip and jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. But Turpin’s quickness and ability to get to the rim led to a 15-2 run, and gave the Cardinals a slim 15-14 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles did not go away. Both team battled back-and-forth throughout the second quarter with Hugoton’s 6-0 run being the largest of the quarter. Zach Dunlap (17 points) hit two free throws in the final minute of the half to knot the game at 29 at the half.
But that is where the upset bid would end.
Turpin came out with a 9-0 run to start the second half, and even thought their offense was not in high gear, their defense was stellar. Hugoton did not score until Ty Concannon’s deep, contested three arched in with 40 seconds left in the third.
Coach Wallace is willing to be patient with his offense. “We and learning each others tendencies. It’s going to take a little time but by mid January we’ll have it together. We’ll know exactly what each other is going to do before they do it.”
The Eagles were able to get within five at 42-37 with 6:30 left in the game, but the Cardinals finished the game with a 14-3 run.
“We competed with them in the first half,” said Eagles coach Jason Hajek. My biggest disappointment is we have to have our 3,4, and 5 (positions) step up. We shoot a lot of threes, but they’ve got to be a scoring force. “That puts a lot of pressure on our guards to score a lot of points”