Blair Oaks overcomes Hallsville

WARDSVILLE —It was one of those statistical anomalies that defies explanation.

The Blair Oaks boys basketball team somehow gave up a double-digit run in each half to the Hallsville Indians — and still won the game by 10 points.

The Falcons saw the Indians go on a 15-2 run in the first quarter, then saw Hallsville better that with a 17-1 streak in the third quarter. However, Blair Oaks overcame all that and still managed to post a 75-65 win Tuesday night.

“I had no idea,” Blair Oaks coach Ryan Fick said after the game. “I knew they went on some runs, but I didn’t know they were that big.”

Other than those two spurts, the Falcons had the better of play during all the other parts of the contest to get the victory.

After Blair Oaks scored the game’s first five points, Hallsville came roaring back with that first run to go up 15-7.

The Indians matched that eight-point edge twice more in the quarter before taking a 19-13 lead into the second quarter.

With the Blair Oaks offense looking out of sync at times, Seth Eskens had six big points in the first quarter and Ryan Wilbers had all seven of his in the second period.

“I thought early on Ryan and Seth did a great job of giving us energy,” Fick said. “We were running a lot of guys in and out, trying to find the combination that was going to give us that energy, and it seemed like those guys were a spark for us.”

Hallsville’s advantage was still 32-26 with 2:58 left until halftime, but with the end-to-end action that took place all game, no lead was safe.

Blair Oaks scored the final nine points of the second quarter and then added the first six of the third to take a 41-32 lead. So how would the Indians answer the Falcons’ 15-0 run? With their 17-1 run that gave them a 49-42 lead with 2:22 left in the third.

“I thought we did a good job of maintaining our composure during the runs that Hallsville went on,” Fick said. “That’s something that we’ve really been addressing lately — staying calm when that adversity creeps in. These guys responded well tonight. They didn’t get ralttled and they made plays when they needed to.”

There weren’t any gaudy runs the rest of the way, but the Falcons did outscore the Indians 33-16 the rest of the way.

“When you’ve got a team full of seniors, that’s how you expect them to respond,” Fick said.

Blair Oaks doubled-up Hallsville 28-14 in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to hitting 12-of-14 free throws down the stretch. For the game, the Falcons connected on 17-of-21 from the charity stripe (81 percent).

Logan Gratz had all eight of his points in the fourth quarter to lead the Falcons.

“Logan came in with some great energy late in the game,” Fick said.

The Falcons had a slim 32-29 edge in rebounding, but 15 of those boards came on the offensive end. Many of them came during the first half, when the Falcons made just 9-of-20 shots in the paint.

“I think we’ve got this mental block now of finishing around the rim,” Fick said. “It’s something we’ve talked a lot about lately — it’s just a lack of focus and concentration. It’s nothing X’s and O’s that we need to change because we’re getting the shots we’re looking for out of our offense. It’s just a matter of finishing.”

Those misses also helped Hallsville get some easy layups at the other end.

“That’s got to be part of our offense, we’ve got to crash,” Fick said. “But a couple stretches there, I think we had five guys crashing and nobody getting back in transition, and that’s when they went on some of their runs. Still, I know we really kept a lot of rebounds alive tonight and were able to create some second-chance opportunities. That’s got to be part of our offense for us to be successful.”

Kory Franks led a balanced Blair Oaks effort with 16 points. Eskens added 15, Haydn Lock chipped in with 14 and Chandler Haxton had 10.

Sean Wooten pumped in a game-high 23 points for Hallsville (8-5 overall, 1-1 Tri-County Conference) on 10-of-14 shooting.

Blair Oaks (10-2, 2-0) will return to action Tuesday when it opens play in the St. James Tournament as the second seed against seventh-seeded Salem.

In the JV game, Blair Oaks carved out a 67-31 victory. Jordan Hair had 17 points for the Falcons (4-2), while Adam Schell added 16.

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