(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
SCOTT CITY -- Although the Oran Eagles had a healthy 12-point lead after the first two quarters, the first half just wasn't the right style for them to get going.
The Kelly Hawks slowed the pace tremendously, holding the ball for up to 40 seconds at a time. When the Eagles regained possession they were off to the races -- maybe a bit too fast.
"I thought in the first half we tried to do too much on offense too quickly," Oran head coach Joe Shoemaker said. "We didn't give ourselves time to get in a rhythm. Kelly did a good job with that. They were very patient on offense and made us come down and guard for 30 or 45 seconds every trip."
But, by the second half the Eagles got used to the routine and outscored Kelly 30-11 in the last two quarters while Oran (10-4) went on to defeat the Hawks 59-28 in their first-round game of the Scott-Mississippi Conference Tournament at Scott City High School.
"Second half I thought we did a better job of passing the basketball and letting things come to us a bit better," said Shoemaker.
Oran, the current No. 10 ranked team in Class 2, shot 41 percent from the field in the first half taking the first shot that was available on most occasions. But, after watching and waiting for Kelly's stall offense to take shape the Eagles wanted to get out and run.
"I'm not too sure if that helps us or hurts us," Shoemaker said about the up-tempo style. "We can play a little bit of both styles. We've had some teams that have slowed it down on us a little bit. We do like to get easy layups and hopefully hit them in transition. We've done alright with people slowing it down on us also. We really have to stay focused on defense for 45 seconds or so."
Slowing the tempo was what the Hawks (0-11) wanted to do. They wanted to pass around the perimeter and try to draw out Oran's 6-5 post-man Jon Morrow.
"We're undersized when it comes to them," Kelly head coach Nate Wills said. "Him (Morrow) at 6-5 we're out-sized under there. We were trying to draw him away from the basket and see if we could get some opportunities that way.
"We wanted to draw them away from the basket," Wills added. "We had to limit the number of shots they get by slowing down the pace and playing good defense. But on our end, we've got to make sure that we run enough offense to get a good shot."
Although Morrow was effective with a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds, Gabe Kielhofner and Nathan Michelsen were the x-factors.
Both Kielhofner and Michelsen finished with 14 points apiece. Michelsen gave the Eagles another option around the basket with five rebounds and nine of Oran's 14 points in the first quarter.
"Nathan's real aggressive with the basketball offensively," Shoemaker said. "He looks to attack when in transition. He's not shooting the ball real well right now but, he's still getting around 15 points."
Kielhofner was a force on the press with five steals and scored eight of the Eagles' 15 points in the third quarter.
"Gabe's just got some sticky hands," said Shoemaker. "He's got long arms and he's always getting deflections. He does what we need seniors to do and takes charge out there. He's a good passer with the ball too, which makes us a lot better."
By the second half the press was getting to the Hawks. Oran had 12 steals in the second half mostly from Kielhofner's five and Nolan Urhahn's five as well. The Eagles also elevated their field goal percentage in the second half and shot 51 percent from the field.
"We just became undisciplined," Wills said about the second half. "We tend to get out of sorts. We're trying to be patient with our offense to get good shots. We've got to stick with that. We can't allow ourselves to get frustrated when openings don't occur quickly."
Oran began to pull away late in the third quarter when the Hawks went scoreless for nearly nine minutes. Brandon Dambach hit 1-of-2 free throws with 3:27 left on the clock in the third quarter to put the score at 33-21. Kelly did not score until there was 2:30 left in the fourth quarter when Michael Fisher hit a 3-pointer. By that time the Eagles were up 59-24 with the mercy clock in effect.
Fisher and Stosh Lovett led the Hawks with six points apiece. Dambach added five points.
Oran will face the East Prairie Eagles tonight at 8:30 p.m. for a chance to advance to the conference championship game.
KELLY (28) -- Michael KuyKendall 3, Stosh Lovett 6, Michael Fisher 6, Blake Wadlington 2, Shawn Heuring 1, Dustin Crowden 2, Andy Klunk 3, Brandon Dambach 5. FG 9 FT 6-16 F 16. (3-pointers: Fisher 1, Lovett 1, KuyKendall 1, Klunk 1. Fouled out: none.)
ORAN (59) -- Caleb Priggel 6, Dylan Adams 2, Preston Scherer 6, Gabe Kielhofner 14, Nathan Michelsen 14, Reece Mangels 2, Jon Morrow 15. FG 23 FT 12-23 F 16. (3-pointers: Michelsen 1. Fouled out: none.)