Updated Wed, Jan 30, 2013 12:12 am
Federal Hocking jumped out to an early lead in a physical, defensive battle and never looked back, defeating Southern, 54-48, in Tuesday night’s TVC-Hocking matchup.
The Lancers (13-4, 11-2 TVC-Hocking) played strong defensively throughout the entire first half, limiting the Southern (3-13, 3-8 TVC-Hocking) scoring to just Tristen Wolfe and Taylor McNickle.
The Tornadoes relied on Wolfe to be their main scorer in the game’s first 12 minutes, scoring the team’s entire eight points during that stretch. When Fed Hock focused their attention on the sophomore, the Lancers were expecting to build a huge lead heading into halftime, but McNickle had a different plan.
It took 12:32 for a player not named Wolfe to score a point on the Southern side, and as soon as the first three-pointer fell, McNickle didn’t stop shooting. After starting the game 0-for-2 from deep, he finished the half with 12 points, all coming from beyond the arc.
Southern remained in the game because of McNickle and Wolfe, who finished the game with 21 and 12 points respectively. Fed Hock coach Howie Caldwell entered halftime furious with his team’s slow closeouts on the two players. Fed Hock’s second half containment of McNickle proved to be the game-changer, though.
The junior guard only put up two shots from three in the second half, both being contested by a Fed Hock defender. The Lancers’ ability to force turnovers and dominate the inside game gave them an advantage, as they outrebounded their opponent, 20-18.
When the game was on the line, Fed Hock went 8-of-11 from the free throw line. While Southern narrowed the Lancers’ lead to six, the late free throws capped off the Fed Hock win.
“Our offense wasn’t running very good,” assistant coach Jeremy Tolson said. “Fortunately, we hit our free throws down the stretch. We got a couple big threes.”
Fed Hock had a strong game from Pete Crum, who finished with 12 points and hit three three-pointers. Max Carney also finished the game with six points and seven rebounds.
For Fed Hock, the win was a huge turnaround after losing on the road to Wahama. They are now two games ahead of Belpre in the TVC-Hocking standings.
“It’s a big win,” Tolson said. “With us only being up one game in the league, I think that when you’re at the top of the TVC, everybody’s going to come for you and bring their best for you, and I think Southern brought it tonight.
“It’s a big win. Every game from here on out is going to be huge for us.”