(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
DEXTER -- The Hayti Indians are known for being an athletic team that crashes the boards hard.
Combine that aspect with accurate perimeter shooting and it's a combination that proved to be too much for Oran to overcome as Hayti rolled to a 74-48 victory in a Class 2 quarterfinal game at Dexter High School.
It's Hayti's first final four trip since capturing the state title in 1983.
Oran, whose season ends at 19-11, was playing in the quarterfinals for the first time since taking second in the state in 1969.
Hayti broke open a close game at halftime with a dominating performance in the second half, outscoring Oran 47-23.
"Unbelievable," Hayti coach Philip Taylor said. "My heart's beating 100 miles an hour."
The Indians (21-9) are now in the semifinals as unlikely participants after being seeded fourth in their district, winning three-straight nail-biters, including a triple-overtime sectional victory over Thayer.
"The night we won the district I thought we might have a chance," Taylor said. "I thought our athleticism and the way we were playing defense that we would have the chance to get there. I'm overwhelmed."
That athleticism took over in the second half as they out-rebounded Oran 43-23 in the contest.
"They hurt us on the boards and that's something we talked about, but it's something that's hard to prepare for," Oran coach Joe Shoemaker said. "They rebounded very hard today and they attack the rim well off the dribble."
But perhaps the true difference-maker was the 3-point shooting of the Indians, particularly from senior guard Hunter Turner, who drained 4 of 8 from beyond the arc on his way to a game-high 20 points.
"He has games like that from time to time," Taylor said of Turner. "Wednesday night as a team we were 1 for 17 and he hit the one. Even getting him to the free throw line he's going to score. We try to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. We do have a couple guys that can shoot so we'll let it fly when we can."
Shoemaker said he knew his team would have trouble matching up inside with the Indians, forcing him to play a tight zone and packing it inside.
"We knew they could shoot some, it's not that they couldn't," Shoemaker said. "But you've got to try to pick your poison with them. That's something I told our guys, 'if they shoot the ball extremely well outside tonight, we're in for a long night.'"
Oran started the game well, leading by as much as 14-7 in the first quarter, but the Indians trimmed the lead to 16-15 by the end of the first quarter.
Hayti began taking control in the second quarter, taking the lead on a Demetrius Luster basket at the 6:00 mark and never relinquishing it the rest of the way.
The Indians led 29-25 at the half, limiting Oran to just 1-of-11 shooting from the field in the second quarter.
Oran junior Kody Moore scored 16 points in the first half, but he was limited to just two points the entire second half as Hayti focused its defense on stopping him.
"That was the object, to keep (Moore) away from the 3-point line," Taylor said. "We had watched on film that when he steps into it, and he's in rhythm, then he knocks it down. We tried to stay in his hip pocket all night long, try to run him and get him tired. Afterwards his shots started to be short there toward the end and even got to the point to where he didn't want to shoot it I don't think."
Hayti opened the second half with a 15-2 run to lead 44-27 with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
The Indians maintained a 51-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"We had a few too many turnovers and that led to some easy baskets for them," Shoemaker said. "We got behind a little bit and had to try to raise the tempo, which is probably in their favor."
The Eagles seemed to run out of gas completely in the fourth quarter as Hayti's lead swelled until the final buzzer.
"I think our defense was the main thing," Taylor said. "We kept the pressure on the whole time and they finally just wore down."
Hayti senior Jerome Thomas, a 6-foot-2 forward, scored 15 points with 13 rebounds and drew three charges. Luster, a 6-1 sophomore added 13 points with seven rebounds. Junior guard Maurion Newbill scored 10 points with seven rebounds.
Oran got 13 points from 6-2 junior center Alex Heuring, who also led the team with five rebounds. Sophomore guard Seth Ressel scored 10 points.
Oran shot just 16-of-50 (32 percent) in the game and finished with 15 turnovers.
"They really turned up their defensive pressure there late," Shoemaker said. "We struggled with that a little bit. They did a good job on Kody. It seemed we couldn't hit a lot of shots other than him and they did a good job of putting a lot of pressure on him."
Hayti, which shot 15-26 (58 percent) from the field in the second half, finished 26-of-54 (48 percent) overall in the game and were 6-14 (43 percent from the 3-point line.
They also were very solid on the free throw line, sinking 16-of-19 (84 percent).
"We did a better job of getting the ball to the inside in the second half," Taylor said. "That was our game plan from the get-go, to use our inside guys because they really only had one, and we had four. And once we got it to them, we were able to shoot layups and get to the free throw line. Once they packed down, we were able to get open 3s and we knocked them down. It was basically inside-out the rest of the game."
Hayti will play Billings (27-3) in the semifinal round on Thursday at Mizzou Arena at 3:20 p.m.
Oran will graduate three players: Payton Kern, Blake Henson and Adam Schaefer, but Shoemaker is optimistic with his team's future as the top three scorers will return.
"The pain's in there right now for those guys, but the memories will be there," Shoemaker said. "A lot of people had written us off and we stuck together as a team and made it this far, so that's something those guys should be proud of. We had a good J.V. group and just challenged all of them that they need to put in the time in the offseason to get ready for next year."
HAYTI (74) -- Hunter Turner 20, Jerome Thomas 15, Demetrius Luster 13, Maurion Newbill 10, Jermel Covington 8, Keenon Norris 2, Karnard Humes 2, Frankie Burden 2, Brandon Burden 2. FG 21, FT 16-19, F 16. (3-pointers: Turner 4, Covington 2. Fouled out: none).
ORAN (48) -- Kody Moore 18, Alex Heuring 13, Seth Ressel 10, Adam Schaefer 4, Blake Henson 3. FG 14, FT 14-18, F 18. (3-pointers: Moore 2. Fouled out: none).