By ERIC X. VICCARO
Even though Valle Catholic High School’s opponent on Thursday came into the game winless, the Warriors were still plenty motivated.
“We really stress the importance of treating every game the same way,” said Valle Catholic head boys’ basketball coach Tyler Search. “Sometimes it works out.”
Search said teenage players can struggle with this; however, the Warriors certainly didn’t here — establishing a 39-16 halftime lead on the way to a 67-48 victory over Oak Ridge in non-league action.
Carter Hoog had his typical performance with 24 points, including five 3-pointers and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, and two blocked shots.
Sam Drury played his finest game of the season for the Warriors, dropping in 16 points on eight field goals. Drury also contributed a pair of steals and a pass deflection.
“Sam loves the game of basketball,” Search said, “and it was nice to see him play well. He is a great listener that is always trying to improve his game.”
Search said the keys were simple: ball movement on offense and playing well enough on defense to create scoring opportunities. Put check marks in both boxes for the Warriors.
Hoog distributed seven assists and teammate Nathan Schwent three. Bryce Giesler and Hoog also contributed a pair of steals each. Harry Oliver was the Warriors’ leading rebounder with nine.
Kyran Newell sliced Valle Catholic’s lead to 10-7 with a baseline runner at the 3:21 mark of the first quarter.
However, the Warriors then proceeded to score the game’s next 16 points over the course of a five-minute frame stretching into the second quarter.
Hoog connected on a 3-ball milliseconds before the buzzer sounded to end the first period. Chase Fallert and Sam Drury both made shots inside the paint during the run.
The Warriors’ lead continued to balloon, and Clayton Drury’s successful free throws provided their largest lead at 56-22 with 2:44 remaining in the third quarter.
The game’s final differential — 19 points — was the closest the Blue Jays were in the second half.