Zach Williams jumps for a rebound against Andover Central.
Home game in the balance for Hornets
By Spencer O'Daniel
Last Updated: February 16, 2017
The last time the Ark City Bulldogs faced off against the Valley Center Hornets, the Hornets were physically dominated on their home court in an 18-point loss.
On Feb. 14, the details and effort changed for the Hornets, but the end result was the same.
Tyler Brown scored 22 points before conceding to an ankle injury halfway through the fourth quarter and the Hornets eventually fell to the Bulldogs 56-49 in a game where the Hornets were constantly fighting a small deficit throughout the second half.
After losing to Ark City but beating Cheney and Andover Central during the past week, the Hornets are 7-10 on the season and are still vying for an opportunity to host a substate game in early March.
Ark City initiated early pressure on Brown, throwing a double-team defensive assault from the tip.
Sophomore forward Zach Williams drilled a wing three-pointer to start the game.
Another three-pointer by junior Kadin Pearson extended the lead to 6-2 in the early part of the first quarter.
The Hornets missed their next five field goal attempts while the Bulldogs made their next three. The home team also began a full-court press to throw the Hornet offense out of rhythm.
At the end of the opening quarter, Brown tossed a three-point opportunity at the rim. Williams was there to grab the offensive board over a Bulldogs defender for the putback a second before the buzzer to give the Hornets a 14-12 lead.
Brown began to heat up early in the second, hitting a three-point basket from deep beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs answered with an impressive alley-oop of their own.
The teams exchanged baskets, but Ark City took advantage of several steals that led to easy layups in transition.
Both teams were on fire the last two minutes, scoring several baskets in a row. Brown found junior Aaron Coach for a three ball, followed by a Wyatt Lange corner three to score six in the last minute of the second quarter.
The Bulldogs carried a small lead into halftime, 30-29. They were able to shoot 41 percent from the field, while the Hornets only hit 8 of 23 in two point opportunities in the first half.
The hour and a half bus drive seemed to play no part in the second half energy level of the Hornets, as Pearson delivered a cross court pass to Williams for his second three pointer of the night to begin the third period.
Two minutes passed until Brown nailed his vintage leaning jumper.
In that two minutes, Ark City went on a 5-0 run.
Lange delivered another corner three before the Bulldogs initiated another round of full-court pressure on the Hornets. This led to a basket for the Bulldogs, followed by a steal that was negated by a Williams block that sent the ball out of bounds.
Brown at one point late in the third began to hobble after falling down from back-to-back Bulldog fouls. He appeared to limp but stayed in the game.
Halfway through the third, Ark City held onto its small lead 39-36.
Pearson drew two defenders before delivering a no-look pass to Joe Petrakis for an easy layup.
Both teams ended the third with a three-ball, but the Bulldogs maintained their small lead, 43-41, to begin the fourth.
Petrakis continued his active play on offense, getting to the line to hit crucial free throws to start the fourth. He followed the two shots with a timely executed block on a Bulldogs breakaway.
Brown continued his shooting on a bum ankle, hitting another three-point shot.
The Hornets kept the lead down to three points, until midway through the quarter when Brown could barely limp to the Hornet bench; signaling an end to his productive night and a change of momentum within the matchup.
The Bulldogs took advantage of Brown's exit, going on a 7-0 run before Williams' offensive rebound and putback ended the cheers of the rowdy Ark City crowd.
The Bulldogs hit four of their last six free throws to grab the victory.
Coach Ty Unrau said his team needs to instantly look beyond the close loss and focus on the bigger goal in front of them.
"We still have a chance to host a sub-state game at home," Unrau said. "We and Andover will be fighting for that come Friday night."
The Hornets faceoff against the Andover Trojans Feb. 17 in Valley Center.
Freshmen — With a 35-point first half, the freshman Hornets easily defeated the Bulldogs 47-17. Josiah Farney, Caden Holle and Wyatt Redburn each scored 11 points for the Hornets.
"C" team — A "C" team game also was played in Ark City. The Hornets prevailed with a 47-32 victory. Sophomore Blayne Hightower scored seven points in the fourth quarter and contributed 12 points on the win.
Junior varsity — The junior varsity fell in a close game, 34-29. Freshman Jakob Byrne led the way with eight points.
No one wants to play the team that gets hot in February in high school basketball.
The underdog. The giant killer. The kind of team that sends over-confident, higher seeded teams headed home wondering what went wrong and preparing for the next season.
That's exactly the role Unrau wants his players to take on in the last stretch of the season.
"We want to be that team that gets hot late in the season that no one wants to play," Unrau said. "We took a step forward this week but the challenge is can we do that next week and the weeks following."
The Hornets faced a 21-hour turnaround Feb. 10 after a dominant 16-point non-conference victory over the Cheney Cardinals the prior evening.
Brown had one of his most efficient nights of the season, scoring 32 points with 11 rebounds and seven assists to will the Hornets over the visiting Andover Central Jaguars, 65-60.
The win marks a sweep over the Jaguars; both five-point victories grabbed within the last few minutes of the game.
The Hornets are winners of back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January and are now 7-9 on the season.
The Hornets began the game slow, and the tip and a quick 5-0 run sparked the Jaguars.
The Jaguars continued to pour it on early, getting up to 8-0 before Brown found Lange on a corner three for the Hornets' first basket.
Central continued to shoot the three ball with their smaller lineup, hitting three in the first four minutes of the game.
Halfway through the first, the Jaguars were up 14-7 on the Hornets.
Brown missed his next two attempts before connecting on a jumper in the lane.
Central hit a three at the buzzer to carry a 19-11 advantage going into the second quarter. The Hornets lacked an offensive identity in the first, leading only to 11 total points.
Brown once again started the scoring in the second, getting to the free throw line to convert both free throws.
Another Central three pointer led to the largest deficit of the game, 27-14, in favor of the Jags.
A quick stretch of energy and effort from the Hornets led to a Pearson steal followed by a ferocious Williams blocked shot. Petrakis showed off his shooting range, drilling a three-pointer at the top of the key.
Another Williams block led to a Brown three-pointer, and the Hornets started a 6-0 run from their stretch of defensive takeaways.
The developing relationship between Brown and Petrakis began to show, as Brown drew several defenders for a dish to Petrakis for an easy basket.
Central went several minutes without scoring, before hitting a basket to halt the scoring assault by the Hornets.
Williams continued to show off his dedication on defense, smashing a third blocked shot out of bounds to the roar of the homecoming crowd.
Central missed the attempt at the buzzer, and the Hornets had cut the 14-point lead to 32-27 headed into halftime.
Brown grabbed six rebounds in the first half, while Williams and Petrakis chipped in four and five points on the scoreboard respectively.
Central brought a balanced scoring attack in the first half, with four players scoring at least seven points. The Jaguars also outrebounded the much bigger Hornets, 22 to 17 in the first two quarters.
Petrakis began the third showing off his passing prowess, hitting Lange for his only three-pointer of the game.
A block by Petrakis led to a quick transition down the court to a wide-open Williams who stepped out to nail a deep jumper from the corner.
The surging Hornets started the third quarter on a 9-0 run, and the Jaguars missed their first five field goal attempts.
The Jaguars continued to struggle on offense and put up just six total points in the third quarter.
As for the Hornets? They used a 19-point third quarter and superior clock management to take an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Brown started the fourth quarter by pulling three defenders into the middle of the lane, followed by a no-look pass to Williams for an easy basket.
Central missed its next three shots, and the Brown-Petrakis combo connected again for another turnaround for Petrakis.
Over the next three minutes, the teams exchanged baskets off of jumpers and routine layups. Fatigue appeared more evident for both teams as each minute passed.
Brown continued his selfless play, finding Petrakis for the fifth time in the game for two points.
The Jaguars found themselves in foul trouble in the last three minutes, and the Hornets hit six of their eight free throws within the last minute to seal the deal with a 65-60 victory.
The Hornets outrebounded, outblocked and outscored the Jaguars in the second half. As a team, the Hornets shots 61 percent on the night on two-point field goal attemps.
Freshmen — The Valley Center freshman squad lost 57-16 to the Andover Central Jaguars.
Hungry to play
Valley completed the season sweep against Cheney Feb. 9, beating the Cardinals on the road 66-44.
"We were hungry," Unrau said. "We were off all week. We had time to prepare for them, and I thought we executed our game plan really well."
The Hornets used the long ball, a height advantage and aggressive defense to take control of the contest in the second quarter and cruise to the victory.
Valley Center led by a single point after the first quarter, but was able to pull away in the second.
Brown, Pearson and Lange combined for five three-pointers in the second quarter as Valley outscored Cheney 25-14.
Williams and Petrakis were active down low for the Hornets, and Aaron Coash provided a spark off the bench.
Brown picked up his third and fourth fouls — both charging calls — early in the third quarter.
Brown started the fourth quarter and finished with 18 points. More importantly, Brown, who had been averaging 30 per contest, was able to get others involved in the offense.
"I thought Tyler was really unselfish tonight, finding guys," Unrau said. "… It was everybody tonight, coming in, getting on the floor, rebounds and runouts. I thought we were able to get some pressure there in the second quarter to extend the lead."
Lange finished with 11 points, all in the first half. Williams also had 11. Petrakis finished with seven.
Valley Center outscored Cheney 20-16 in the second half.
Cheney made just 12 field goals on 43 attempts.
Junior varsity — The JV Hornets beat Cheney 50-49. Aaron Coash led the Hornets with 13 points as Valley Center outscored Cheney 12-9 in the decisive fourth quarter.
Freshmen — The freshman team tried to comeback, but fell short in a 54-52 loss to Cheney. Cheney led 46-40 going into the fourth quarter. The Hornets went on a 12-8 run to end the game.
Matthew Patterson had 14 points for the Hornets. Josiah Farney and Ethan Phillips chipped in nine each.
Ark City 56, Valley Center 49
Valley Center 14 15 12 8 — 49
Ark City 12 18 13 13 — 56
Valley Center: Brown 3-7 3-8 7-9 22, Pearson 0-2 1-3 0-0 3, Coash 0-0 1-1 0-0 3, Flora 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Lange 0-1 1-8 3-3 5, Williams 3-5 2-3 0-0 12, Petrakis 1-1 0-1 2-2 4. Totals 7-16 8-24 11-13 18 49.
Ark City: O'Toole 3-5 1-3 2-2 11, Clark 2-3 0-2 4-4 8, Bell 0-3 0-1 0-0 0, Spencer 2-3 0-1 0-0 4, Pierce 4-5 1-5 4-6 15, Fiorentino 1-4 1-4 0-0 5, Wilson 5-10 0-0 0-0 10, Segree 1-1 0-3 1-2 3. Totals 18-34 3-19 11-14 11 56.
Valley Center 65, Andover Central 60
And. Central 19 13 6 22 — 60
Valley Center 11 16 19 19 — 65
Andover Central: Henry 1-2 2-4 1-2 9, Taylor 0-0 0-1 0-0 0, Bell 3-5 1-1 2-4 11, McCray 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Crawford 1-3 0-3 0-0 2, Belt 3-5 1-6 1-2 10, Anthemides 1-5 2-10 3-3 11, Leedom 3-7 3-11 2-2 17, Washington 0-1 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 12-28 9-38 9-13 19 60.
Valley Center: Brown 5-8 4-9 10-14 32, Pearson 2-2 1-6 0-0 7, Coash 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Flora 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Lange 0-2 1-3 2-2 5, Byrne 0-0 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 4-5 1-1 0-0 11, Petrakis 3-7 1-1 1-2 10. Totals 14-23 8-21 13-18 11 65.
Valley Center 60, Cheney 44
Valley Center 15 25 9 11 — 60
Cheney 14 14 8 8 — 44
Valley Center: Brown 3-5 2-4 6-8 18, Pearson 0-1 2-3 0-0 6, Lange 2-2 2-10 1-1 11, Williams 5-8 0-0 1-1 11, Petrakis 3-5 0-0 1-2 7, Coash 1-1 0-0 0-0 2, Byrne 1-1 0-0 0-0 2, Flora 1-1 0-0 1-1 3. Totals 16-24 6-17 10-13 16 60.
Cheney: Dewey 1-4 0-0 0-0 2, Scheer 0-4 0-1 3-4 3, Grace 0-3 0-0 2-2 2, Petz 1-8 2-6 5-7 13, Grover 2-3 0-0 3-6 7, Patterson 2-4 1-2 1-4 8, Peters 0-1 3-4 0-0 9, White 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, Klinkerman 0-1 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 6-29 6-14 14-23 16 44.