ORAN -- The Advance Hornets finished strong to claim a 67-44 win over the Kelly Hawks in first-round play at the 51st Oran Invitational on Tuesday.
All-stater Alex Steil led the Hornets, who finished third in Class 2 at the 2006 state championships, with a game-high 26 points, 20 in the second half.
"They did a great job on him early, then as we got more patient on offense in the second half, he got better looks and started feeling it a little bit," said Advance coach Joe Shoemaker.
Kelly (0-1) rebounded well early, converting a field goal on the seventh shot attempt on its first possession. But as the game wore on, Advance won the battle of the backboards. "(In) the first quarter, I thought we played extremely well and were a little more physical than they were, but they really stepped it up the rest of the game and went to the glass hard," said Kelly coach Cory Johnson.
Kelly, the No. 5 seed, held a 13-9 first-quarter lead, then the No. 4 Hornets went on an 8-0 run to open the second period.
Advance outscored the cold-shooting Hawks 16-4 to take a 25-17 halftime edge.
"At halftime we talked about them overplaying so hard that we could get some easy buckets if we could read the defense," said Johnson.
The Hawks closed the gap a bit with a 22-point third quarter, trailing 45-39 going into the final stanza.
But it all went sour for the Hawks in the fourth quarter as the quicker Hornets' press created turnovers and they established firm dominance on the boards.
Johnson said the Hawks lacked aggressiveness with the basketball and weren't very active.
"We'd get one shot on the offensive end, then they'd get the rebound and go down and get three or four shots before they got a stickback," he said. "They got any shot they wanted over and over again and for us to be successful, obviously, that can't happen."
With Steil scoring 11, mostly in the paint, the Hornets began to pull away in the fourth. They strung together runs of 7-0, 5-0, and 10-0 while holding the Hawks to only four fourth-quarter points.
We'll use this game, the first game of the year, as a barometer to see where we're at and make adjustments," Johnson said. "We're not going to be as bad all year long as we were tonight. I know that. We just have to make the adjustments to get better and I think we'll do it."
Trenton Moses added 11 for Advance and Spencer Ayers led Kelly with 11.
The sixth-seeded Oran Eagles rebounded from a tough loss to the Scott County Central Braves in the opening round to defeat the No. 7-seed Twin Rivers Royals, 85-63, and advance to the consolation final.
The bigger, deeper, more experienced Eagles did struggle at times against the Royals, who lost their entire starting unit to graduation.
Oran led 17-8 after the first quarter and went in at halftime with a 34-23 advantage.
The Eagles widened the lead to 55-33 going into the final quarter, but the scrappy Royals battled back to within 10 at 64-54 with 4 minutes to go.
After a timeout, the Eagles regrouped to extend the final margin back to 22.
On the heels of a 3-for-13 performance from the free-throw line on Monday, the Eagles again struggled, hitting 17-of-37.
Chase Seyer paced Oran scoring with 21 points, Kody Campbell added 18, Robert Lange had 11 and Jake Kluesner 10.
Kenny Johnson led Twin Rivers with 26, including 14-of-14 from the charity stripe. Dylan Stockton chipped in with 11.