By Ted Waddell
WALTON January 4, 2007 It was a game of reversal of fortune.
Friday night’s Walton Warriors Holiday Tournament consolation game between the Sullivan West Bulldogs and the Harpursville Hornets looked like a repeat of Thursday night’s opening-round matchup between the Bulldogs and the Gladiators of Goshen as the Hornets buzzed out to a 8-0 lead in the first quarter.
Thinking about his team’s 61-40 loss to Goshen the previous night, SW Coach Cliff Kelly started yelling, “Keep your hands up!”
And Kelly’s combination of heads-up, hand-up defense began working its magic. As a result, the Bulldogs hung in there for a 58-46 win.
Adhering to Kelly’s defensive plan, SW took a 13-10 lead at the 4:42 mark of the first period. It was an advantage the Bulldogs never gave up, although Harpursville (0-7) made a game of it in the second half.
SW (5-3)outpaced the Hornets 23-16 in the first period and 16-6 in the second period to rack up a 39-22 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Harpursville surged back into an attack mode, as they outgunned the Bulldogs, 12-6.
In the final period, SW outscored the Hornets by only a point, 13-12, which caused the Bulldogs coaching staff to really start barking, “Keep your hands up!”
SW was led to victory by Brad Reimer and Robert Rosa. Reimer scored 20 points, including four 3-point shots. Rosa added 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
For Harpursville, Andrew Mark netted 20 points and Kyle Fuller finished with 10 points.
Neither team shot very well from the free-throw line. SW was 6-of-15 (40 percent) and Harpursville made 8-of-17 (47 percent) foul shots.
It was a good news/bad news scenario for the Bulldogs. On the positive side, they picked up the third place trophy and Reimer was named to the All-Tournament Team. On the negative side, senior Chris Story was sidelined late in the game with an ankle injury.
“I thought it was a good game, but our guys came out really slow in the first half,” Harpursville Coach Shawn Riley said. “We never gave up, and we picked up the tempo in the second half… we started to play our basketball.”
Riley said that with his squad committing 23 turnovers in the first half, it was difficult to come back.
“We just need to keep pushing forward, keep going,” he said of the season.
Kelly believes in old-school basketball, the kind of play where everybody keeps their hands up on defense when the other team is in its halfcourt offense.
“If you keep your hands up, you’ll take away the passing lanes and you can get a lot of unexpected steals,” he said. “If you shut down their entry passes, it keeps your big guys out of foul trouble.”
Kelly’s take on the game?
“If was good in the beginning, but then we got a little tired,” he said. “We’re not very deep, and they made a game out of it at the end.”