HENNESSEY — The Hennessey Eagles cruised to a dominating 78-25 win over the Newkirk Tigers in their Class 3A district playoff game on Friday night at Hennessey High School.
The No. 4 Eagles (22-2) racked up 51 points in the first half of the game, which prompted head coach Brady Page to sit his starters for the rest of the contest. Through the first quarter it was a fairly tight game. Newkirk (1-19) rallied from a 19-2 deficit to make it a 19-10 game heading into the second quarter.
“I think we kind of let up a bit,” Page said. “We kind of played to the competition and I had to get on them in the second quarter.”
Page’s words worked, as the Eagles’ full-court press defense nearly shut the Tigers out completely before halftime, allowing just four points.
“We pressure quite a bit (to) see if we can get that easy basket,” Page said after the game. “Seems to be working for us.”
Hennessey forced several turnovers throughout the game and intercepted the inbound pass three times and converted the transitional basket.
The Eagles’ aggressive defense made it difficult for Newkirk shooters — and passers — to find any sort of comfort. Hennessey’s defense forced passers to move the ball off-balance and into heavy traffic, or the alternative was to be caught in a Hennessey trap and force a jump-ball.
Hennessey finished the second quarter with 36 points, most of which were scored by forward Dalton Vinson who scored 12 points that quarter. Vinson was a force underneath the rim and scored a majority of his points through drives towards the net.
Vinson finished with a game-high 17 points and was joined in double figures by Brandon Ramirez, who had 12 points.
The Eagles’ bench put up 27 points to close out the game, with Noah Moery leading the half with eight points for Hennessey.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids. It’s just not quite their turn yet. But they are getting there and I think they will be pretty good in the future,” Page said.
Hennessey now faces the winner of tonight’s Chisholm at Alva contest on Feb. 22 at Chisholm. Newkirk playa the loser between Alva and Chisholm in an elimination game on Feb. 22, also at Chisholm.
Lady Tigers strong-arm their way past Hennessey
The Newkirk Lady Tigers were able to claim a 3A district crown, defeating the Hennessey Lady Eagles 57-37 on Friday night.
Despite Hennessey (9-15) playing at home, the Lady Eagles struggled early and quickly found themselves in a hole early in the game.
“I just think that we weren’t truly ready,” Hennessey head coach Tobey Nightingale said after the game. “We didn’t handle their pressure well.”
Newkirk’s strength was apparent from the opening quarter, as the No. 12 Lady Tigers (18-5) went on a 7-0 run before Hennessey was able to answer back. After a short back and forth—and the game’s score standing at 10-4 — the Lady Tigers went on a 8-0 run before the end of the quarter and a lead of 20-6.
Newkirk’s zone-defense prevented the Lady Tigers from building any inside drive towards the basket. The Newkirk defense — a 2-3 zone — is designed to push the opposing offense outward.
“They like to put pressure out on your guards and extend it out, and we struggled with that,” Nightingale said.
Hennessey seemed to have a better command of its offense early in the second quarter. The Lady Eagles outscored the Newkirk 3-2 in the opening minutes. Hennessey’s defense also tried to display different sets to slow down the Lady Tiger offense.
However, it was to no effect, as Newkirk’s offense picked up where it left off, and scored an additional 14 points and took a 36-11 lead at halftime.
“They handled it well,” Nightingale said. “Credit to them.”
Hennessey’s offense could not score more than six points in each quarter. Taylor Dunigan led the Lady Eagles with 10 points. But by the fourth, despite putting up 22 points, the game was all but over.
Morgan Wymore led Hennessey with 10 points. Newkirk’s Katelyn Schieber poured in a game-high 24 points to pace the Lady Tigers.
Nightingale said at halftime and following the game, she challenged her team to step up to the opposition and execute, especially now that the postseason is here.
“Every night is a new night, and it’s do or die time,” she said.
It will be do or die for the Lady Eagles as they will face the loser of tonight’s district playoff game between Chisholm and Alva at Chisholm in an elimination game on Feb. 22. Newkirk will face the winner of tonight’s Chisholm and Alva game, also Feb. 22 at Chisholm.