Conference tournament opens at Hume
By Eric Wade
Daily Mail Sports Editor
HUME -- The Golden Valley Vernon County Conference Tournament is a time many local athletes look forward to and this week is no exception. On Monday night, athletes from four Vernon County schools, as well as one from Henry County and another from Bates County got their first chance to shine in front of a little bit broader audience as the tournament began at Hume High School.
This year's tournament opened up with four games that all had one common thread -- a dominant winner. In four games, the closest decision was 15 points and the four games were won by an average of nearly 26.
The first of those games pitted the Montrose Lady Blue Jays against Ballard, in a contest that was almost over before it even started. The Lady Bulldogs simply couldn't seem to get much of anything going against head coach Kevin LaSalle's high-powered offense.
Despite having just six players in uniform for the contest, the Lady Jays ran away and hid early, on their way to a 58-16 victory.
The first half in that contest ultimately proved to be a sign of things to come, as the Lady Jays opened up a 19-2 lead after just 8 minutes. That lead continued to grow as the minutes wore on, ultimately culminating in a 30-6 advantage at halftime, for the Lady Jays.
Despite having a very comfortable lead, the Lady Jays came out of the locker room in the second half with the same intensity they had in the beginning and stuck to their original game plan. That game plan featured nearly flawless ball movement around the perimeter and a three-point shooting clinic.
By the time all was said and done, the Lady Jays made six 3-pointers and another two old fashioned three-point plays. That -- along with persistent struggles from the field for Ballard -- allowed LaSalle's squad to continue to extend its lead even more as the minutes continued to wear on.
By the end of the third quarter, the Lady Jays held a 45-12 lead on their way to the 42-point victory.
Natalie Collins led the offensive effort for the winners, finishing the night with 19 points. She was joined in double figures by her sister, Audrey, who finished with 17, while Joyce Jurgensmeyer added 13.
Stachia Cooper led the offensive effort for Ballard with seven.
In the second game of the night, the story was much the same as the Montrose boys took on Northeast Vernon County. It wasn't quite as lopsided as the girls' game, but LaSalle's boys still had little trouble getting past head coach Jeremy Barger's Knights as they took the victory by a final score of 58-31.
The Knights were plagued by a number of shooting and rebounding struggles in the contest and the Blue Jays used those struggles to their advantage, with near-perfect precision. Jacob Engeman dominated the contest for Montrose, netting 10 of his game-high 23 points in the opening quarter and helping his squad build an early, 17-6 lead.
The Blue Jays followed that onslaught with what turned out to be their best offensive showing of the night in the second quarter, racking up 18 points, while holding the Knights to just six for the second consecutive period. That gave the Blue Jays a commanding, 35-12 lead, heading into the locker room at halftime.
That lead simply continued to grow in the third quarter, as LaSalle's squad kept the offensive pressure on. After holding NEVC to just six points for the third time in as many quarters, Montrose added 11 more to take a 46-18 lead into the contest's final 8 minutes.
As LaSalle began to clear off his bench, the Knights were able to put together their best offensive effort of the night in the final period, netting 13 points. Montrose kept pace, however, racking up 12 of its own to take the 27-point victory.
Jared Hilvert led the offensive effort for the Knights with seven points. Drue Hoagland, Ty Davis and Mitchell Longstreth each finished with six, while Colby Dighero added four and Trenton Rader rounded out the scoring with two.
The closest game of the night came in the third of four games, as the Bulldogs of Ballard High School defeated the host Hornets by a final score of 51-36.
Both squads struggled to find the basket early in that contest, ultimately resulting in a much closer game than the first two. By the time the first quarter came to a close, the Hornets were still well within striking distance, down by just four, at 8-4.
Things began to change in the second quarter as the Bulldogs began to find their rhythm, adding 12 points to their total. Hume was simply unable to keep pace from there, ultimately sending Ballard into the locker room with a 20-10 halftime lead.
The second half was closer, but by the time the Hornets found their rhythm, the damage had already been done. The Hornets were outscored by just two, 11-9, in the third quarter, sending the contest into its final 8 minutes with Ballard up, 31-19.
That set up a final period in which both squads had their best offensive showings of the night. Though the Hornets were able to put up 17 points in the quarter, it simply wasn't enough to keep up as Ballard added 20 of its own, sealing the 15-point victory.
The final game of the night was much the same as the other three, as the Lady Hornets of Hume High School opened up the tournament against the Lady Panthers of Sheldon. By the time all was said and done, the Lady Hornets took the victory in dominant fashion, by a final score of 45-26.
The Lady Hornets entered the contest with a lot on the line, as they were not only the girls' tournament's host team, but were also expected to win. That motivation resulted in an offensive onslaught that saw head coach Delanya Thompson's squad take a 13-5 lead after the first quarter.
That lead continued to grow throughout the contest, as the Lady Hornets kept the pressure on. By the time the half came to a close, Thompson's squad had extended its lead to 13, taking a 24-11 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
As the two squads returned to the floor, the Lady Panthers began to find their rhythm, however, and kept pace through the third quarter. Since the two teams matched points in that period -- with 14 apiece -- the contest went into its final 8 minutes with the Lady Hornets up by 13, at 38-25.
Neither squad really put up much offense in the final period, but Thompson's squad was able to win the quarter, 7-1, to take the 19-point victory.
Hope Yarick led the offensive effort for the Lady Hornets as she finished the night with 15 points. She was joined in double figures by Madison Cannon with 11 and Megan Sutcliffe with 10 and Kaitlee Metcalf rounded out the scoring for the winners with nine.
Destiny Shelton led the offensive effort for Sheldon with 12 points and was followed closely by Logan Lamb and Kylie Leavell, who each finished with seven.
Three of Hume's players nearly finished the night with a double-double, as Sutcliffe finished with nine rebounds to go with her 10 points, while Cannon had eight rebounds to go with her 11 points. Metcalf supplemented her nine points with nine assists.
The tournament was scheduled to get back under way on Tuesday, with four more games, but those results were not available at press time.