By TED RADICK
RAWSON — One of the key spots in a basketball game is the first several minutes after halftime.
Teams have a chance to regroup, make adjustments and dictate the final two quarters. Cory-Rawson took full advantage of the halftime break Friday, and came out on fire to start the third quarter in rolling to a 43-24 victory over Vanlue in a Blanchard Valley Conference boys game.
The Hornets had just a 20-18 lead over Vanlue at intermission. A change in defense made all the difference as Cory-Rawson (4-14, 3-6 BVC) outscored the Wildcats (6-14, 2-7 BVC) 24-6 in the second half.
“We went to a matchup zone in the second half, and that seemed to really get them out of sync,” Cory-Rawson coach Aaron Long said. “We played it really well. It’s something we do to try and change things up and get teams out of rhythm.”
The Wildcats definitely looked out of rhythm after the break. Unable to penetrate to the basket and without size inside, Vanlue had to settle for shooting 3-pointers.
Vanlue hit 2 of 17 shots from 3-point range in the second half, was 4 for 25 from beyond the arc in the game and finished the game 7 of 44 (15.9 percent) from the floor overall.
“I was proud of our man-to-man in the first half, we held them to 18 points, but you don’t want to get them too comfortable,” Long said. “So, we went to our matchup to start off the third quarter, the first couple of possessions went really well and there was no need to change back.
“We stayed in it, and got them relying too much on the deep ball. We did a nice job of cutting off dribble penetration and held them to six points. I was really thrilled about our defensive effort.”
The Hornets began to click a little bit on the offensive end in the second half as well. Grant Risner, who had a double-double with game-highs of 13 points and 16 rebounds, started the second half with a short jumper. Moments later, he converted a steal into a layup.
Danny Miles hit a 5-foot jumper, and Chad Shepler drained a 3-pointer as Cory-Rawson began to assume control. By the time Matthew Alspach penetrated for a layup with 1:35 left in the third quarter, the Hornets had scored 12 straight points in the third and had a 15-0 run from midway through the second quarter.
“They came out and did everything right, and we couldn’t get anything to go in,” Vanlue coach Dean Birchmeier said.
“Before you know it, they were up nine. We had to start extending our defense more, and that caved in on us.”
Long thought the Hornets could have taken over the game earlier than they did. Time and again, Cory-Rawson worked screens and backdoor plays to get players open near the basket. Time and again, the Hornets missed layups.
“We had a lot of opportunities to maybe stretch this thing out a little earlier,” Long said. “That was something we talked about at halftime, that we really need to make sure we finish around the basket. We had multiple opportunities, and we missed a bunch of easy bunnies. Those are shots we typically don’t miss.”
Sam Wagner temporarily stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer late in the third quarter for Vanlue, but the Wildcats got just one more basket, a trey by Austin Smith, in the fourth.
“We need to work on playing inside-out more, and getting more inside touches,” Birchmeier said. “We didn’t do a good job of that tonight.
“They got to the basket a lot. We got a few turnovers, but in the end it didn’t work for us.”
The Wildcats did try to penetrate the lane in the second half, but the Cory-Rawson defense was up to the task.
“I was really thrilled about our defensive effort,” Long said. “We did a nice job of communicating and rotating. They’re going to hit some shots, but our thing is that if they’re contested shots then we’re going to be in pretty good shape.
“And that was really the case. They were contested shots and much more difficult to hit than uncontested ones.”
Nick Hagerty led Vanlue with eight points and Smith added seven. Colton Huston had five rebounds.
Chad Shepler hit his first three 3-point attempts and finished with 11 points for Cory-Rawson. Kyle Rossman added nine points.
Vanlue (6-14, 2-7 BVC)
Huston 1-2–4, Smith 2-2–7, Hagerty 2-2–8, Wagner 1-0–3, Coldren 1-0–2, Hendricks 0-0–0, Ross 0-0–0. TOTALS: 7-44 6-10–24.
Cory-Rawson (4-14, 3-6 BVC)
Alspach 3-0–6, G. Risner 6-1–13, Shepler 4-0–11, H. Risner 0-0–0, Miles 1-0–2, Moser 2-1–5, Rossman 3-0–9, Silvers 0-0–0, Wineland 0-0–0, Waltz 0-0″”0, Tuttle 0-0–0. TOTALS: 18-39 2-7–43.
Vanlue 9 9 3 3 – 24
Cory-Rawson 12 8 12 11 – 43
3-Point GOALS: Vanlue 4-25 (Hagerty 2, Smith, Wagner); Cory-Rawson 5-10 (Shepler 3, Rossman 2).
rebounds: Vanlue 19 (Huston 5); Cory-Rawson 33 (G. Risner 16).
turnovers: Vanlue 7, Cory-Rawson 11.
junior varsity: Cory-Rawson, 41-23.
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