The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

January 22, 2014

Kremlin-Hillsdale turnaround gets Cherokee Strip test

ENID, Okla. — What a difference a year has made for the Kremlin-Hillsdale boys coming into the Cherokee Strip Conference basketball tournament

The Broncs came into last year’s tournament with an 0-17 record and a 60-game losing streak, which they broke with a 42-30 win over Timberlake in the seventh-place game.

This year, Kremlin-Hillsdale is 10-4, having won six of its last seven games. The No. 4-seeded Broncs face Deer Creek-Lamont (3-10) at 12:20 p.m today at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center Coliseum.

“It’s been an enjoyable season,’’ said Broncs coach Brad Hawkins. “We’re still a work in progress. There are still things we need to work on, but we like the direction we’re going.’’

The Broncs have only one starter — 6-foot-4 Trev Schoenhals — who stands taller than 6-0. He is joined by 5-10 Eli Voth, 5-9 Andre Lizar, 5-8 Hayden Bonine and 5-11 Kass Bittle.

“A lot of it is just experience and maturity,’’ said Hawkins, who lost only one senior off last year’s 1-23 team. “We’re just coming together. Everyone is playing together and learning to play together.’’

Fighting through the adversity strengthened the team’s resolve, Hawkins said. The second-year coach felt the Broncs competed hard last year.

“We can do some things now that puts us in a good position to get a win,’’ he said. “It helped to get some wins early. We know we can compete on a different level now.’’

The Broncs have allowed an average of only 34.7 points per game in their 10 wins. Only Ringwood (47) and Buffalo (41) scored more than 40 points.

“When we’re struggling on offense, we know we can fall back on our defense,’’ Hawkins said. “We understand a lot more about what we want to do and how to get defensive stops.

“A lot of it is heart. We depend on, and trust each other to be there for each other.”

Voth is the only Bronc averaging in double figures (10.7).  He is followed by Schoenhals (7.8), J.J. Stubblefield (7.4), Lizar (6.2), Bonine (5.7), John Schrader (2.9) and Bittle (2.2).

“We don’t have anyone who scores a lot of points,’’ Hawkins said, “but we play together well, that’s a good situation to have. We get points here and there.’’

Stubblefield, Schrader, Rustin Pierce and Lee Olmstead have played well off the bench.

DCLA has lost three straight — all by close margins — Waukomis (55-51), Timberlake (47-42) and Ringwood (52-51). The Eagles lost to the Broncs 59-33.

“We’re not looking past them,’’ Hawkins said. “On any given night, any team in this conference can beat another. The tournament is wide open.’’

The Kremlin-Hillsdale/DCLA winner would face the Burlington-Lomega winner in the semifinals. Burlington has beaten the Broncs twice this season.

In other first-round boys games:

Lomega (1-16) vs. Burlington (11-6), 8:20 — The top-seeded Elks have lost their last two games. They had won five straight before that.

Timberlake (4-12) vs. Cherokee (6-5), 3— The two teams have split in two previous meetings with the Chiefs winning at Timberlake 48-38 on Jan. 4, but losing to the Tigers 44-43 in the Cherokee Invitational Jan. 10. Cherokee is the defending champion having defeated Medford 49-31 in last year’s finals.

Medford  (3-11) vs. Ringwood (6-8), 5:40 — Ringwood has won four  straight, including a 66-41 decision over the Cardinals Jan. 10.

The girls field is exceptionally strong, headed by No. 3-ranked Lomega (16-3), which faces Ringwood (5-9) at 7 p.m. in the first round.

The Lady Raiders have won six straight since falling to Ada 57-40 in the first round of the  Mid-America Classic Dec. 26.  The Lady Devils have lost seven of their last eight.

In other first-round girls games

Burlington (14-3) vs. Kremlin-Hillsdale (7-7), 11 a.m. —  Burlington looks to avenge a 44-43 loss to the Lady Broncs on Nov. 26. The Lady Broncs, who lost standout Katie Davis at the Cherokee Tournament, have lost five of their last seven. The Lady Elks have won 10 of their last 11.

DCLA (8-5) vs.Cherokee (8-7), 1:40 — Chad Hutchison, who led DCLA to the tournament championship last season, faces his old team for the first time. DCLA has won six of its last seven, including taking the Mulhall-Orlando Tournament. Cherokee has won five of its last seven.

Medford (9-5) vs. Timberlake (14-2) 4:20 — Timberlake’s two losses have both come against undefeated Pond Creek-Hunter. Medford has won three of its last four.

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