Experience won out at The Jungle Saturday night as the host Tigers pulled away in the second half against Sandusky 66-43 in the non-conference encounter.
The game was a makeup after the area’s frigid temperatures earlier in the week cancelled Wednesday’s scheduled matchup.
While Huron has eight seniors on its team and all five starters from that group, Sandusky boasts two seniors, with just one in the starting lineup along with two juniors, a sophomore, and a freshman against the Tigers.
Throw in the experience of an appearance in the Division III regional semifinals last year for Huron, along with being the preseason media pick to win the Sandusky Bay Conference, and it appeared the Blue Streaks were in for a battle right from the start.
A battle it was as Sandusky (1-10) kept it close for a half, but for the second night in a row the Tigers (6-3) used a big second half to secure a double-win weekend. Friday night the Tigers prevailed over Clyde, and against the Streaks turned a 33-25 halftime cushion into the convincing win.
“In the second half we really emphasized moving the basketball and making them play defense for more than just one pass,” said Huron coach Bobby James. “Once we ran our stuff and moved the ball around we played pretty well. I really thought the key to our game tonight was our post players. All three of them came to play. Nick (Stauffer), Zach (Souter), and Austin (Gardner) really came to play. Another thing is you had a great game out of Adam (Storer). He shot the ball well, but that came from ball movement. We figured out that Adam was hot and we moved the ball.”
Storer, a junior, came off the bench to lead the Tiger attack with a career high 20 points, including three 3’s to help spread the Sandusky defense. Souter added 13 points for the Tigers, who shot 28-of-60 for the night (47 percent) and enjoyed a 47-23 rebounding edge.
The pivotal third quarter saw the Blue Streaks get off just six action shots while committing nine turnovers, and only hauling down two rebounds. That allowed Huron to outscore Sandusky 18-9 in the quarter to open up a 51-34 lead.
“We’re still struggling to play four quarters of basketball,” said Streak coach Dustin Sharp. “We played solid in the first half. In the second half there were just a lot of mental breakdowns. Defense, not boxing out, just the basics we forgot to do. Obviously, you’ve got to do the basics in basketball to win games.
“My kids are sick of losing, but because you’re sick of losing means you’ve got to give forth effort for four quarters. They want to win, there’s no doubt about that. Everyone wants to win. But we’ve got to understand it takes 32 minutes, not 23, or 24, or 20. It takes 32. We’re still trying to find that. We’ll keep working at it — it will come.”
Sandusky managed just 1-for-12 on 3-point attempts, finishing 16-for-43 overall from the floor for 37 percent. Freshman Jayrese Williams led the way with 21 points, the lone Blue Streak in double figures. Sandusky put six scorers in the book, with all but four points coming from its starters.
Huron, meanwhile, put 11 players in the scoring column, with 39 points coming from its bench players.
“Our bench has played great,” James said. “Tonight was another example of how we can be real proud of our bench. Everybody that comes in steps up, and that’s a good thing about our team. If somebody has a bad night or gets into foul trouble, somebody can step up.”
While Sandusky has had its struggles, the schedule has not been kind to the Streaks. Friday night they travelled to undefeated Norwalk, the No. 6-ranked team in Division II, along with facing Ontario last weekend, the 14th ranked Division II team. Both are fellow Northern Ohio League teams for the Streaks, who must face each team again at home.
Add in games already played against Toldeo Bowsher (state-ranked in Division I), Mansfield Senior, and two games against Fremont Ross, along with needing to still face Perkins and Lorain in non-conference games later this season, and the Streaks have one of their toughest schedules in recent memory.
“We take our lumps, but we’re still going to play,” Sharp said. “They’re going to play hard. They are going to give it their all.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Huron either, who face a stern test next weekend with Sandusky Bay Conference games against St. Mary and at Perkins. James just hopes he can get the first half struggles figured out by then.
“I wish I knew what was going on, I’d get it figured out,” he said. “We have a little trouble starting. I think we’ll get it down the line. You’ve got to start out a little better if you are going to beat the good teams. We’ll play a lot better. We’ll see if we’re ready on Friday night. We had a nice full week of practice. Hopefully we’ll get some preparation in for this weekend, and it’ll be a lot of fun. We’ll get after it a little bit.”