After 11 days without a game due to the frigid, snowy weather, the South Oldham Dragons could not have been blamed if they had come into the Roy L. Winchester Gymnasium in New Castle on Friday night a little cold, but that was not the case. They lit up the Henry County Wildcats with hot shooting and tenacious defense in their 81-54 win.
The Wildcats shot a respectable 46 percent from the field for the game but it was nowhere near good enough to keep up with the Dragons who shot 60 percent, including 48 percent from 3-point range. The only place the Dragons were not hot was the free throw line where they hit just five of ten charity shots. The Dragons hit 12 of 28 3-point attempts while the Wildcats were just one for 11 from beyond the arc.
“There is no glaring statistical category that sticks out except for 3-pointers,” Coach Enoch Welch said. “We had 18 turnovers but they had 15. They just shot the ball better. Five of their 3-pointers came on second chances. Against a good team you have to get the long rebounds.”
The game started with the Dragons hitting a 3-pointer 36 seconds into the game and the shooting barrage did not let up throughout the first three periods of play. After a steal and layup and another layup, the Cats were down 7-0 just 1:35 into the game.
But Henry County scored the next seven points on a layup by Landon New, a free throw by Nacona Jeffries and two pull up jumpers in the lane by Chase Howard.
The teams played fairly evenly from that point until the end of the period but the Cats could not match the Dragons from long range as South Oldham hit three more 3-pointers in the period to take a 20-13 lead into the second period.
The pattern continued in the second period as the Dragons hit four more three’s and outscored the Wildcats 17-11 to take a 37-24 advantage into the locker room.
The teams played evenly through the first 2:22 of the third period until South Oldham went on a devastating 15-0 run to go up 59-40 with 2:54 left.
The Wildcats never recovered from that big run which included two 3-pointers sandwiched around several layups off turnovers.
After Austin Young scored inside to break up the run, the Dragons scored seven of the next eight points to lead 66-33. By the end of the period South Oldham had put up 35 points to Henry County’s 12.
In the fourth period both teams emptied their benches and the Wildcat reserves outscored the Dragons reserves 18-9 to set the final margin at 27.
Welch felt that the team’s defense was the culprit in the loss.
“Against a team that spreads the floor like that you have to guard the man in front of you and we didn’t do a very good job of that,” Welch said. “Whether it’s one point or 27 points, a loss is a loss and we have to learn from it and build from here.”
Welch was philosophical about the loss.
“Whether you have success or failure, the response is always the same – hard work.” he said.
The win pushed South Oldham’s record to 13-2 while the Wildcats fell to 15-5.