Huntington is off to a 3-0 start to the season claiming the Ness Bros. Hall of Fame Tournament. It hasn’t been perfect, but the Foresters have found ways to win games and finally got their shooting stroke.
By Ryan Walker, Staff Writer
Three games in one week is a tough task compared to the usual two games in a week, especially to begin the season. There is no time to adjust going back-to-back on Friday and Saturday in a tournament where new Huntington University Hall of Fame inductees are in attendance.
But HU kept themselves at the top of the scoreboard for most of the first three games, and more importantly, at the final buzzer in Platt Arena.
Head coach Kory Alford has been pleased with his team to start the season as they found ways to win.
“We are finding different ways to win games,” Alford said, “and that is a great sign early in the season. Going into Saturday, our main focus was rebounding. We knew it was a strength of Missouri Baptist… We dominated the paint and were able to keep them off the glass the entire night.”
The Foresters have found several ways to win, including their struggle to shoot the 3-ball, sharing the ball, and getting chances with their bench players.
HU’s starters shot just 6-25 (17%) in their first two games against Governor’s State and Calumet, which allowed both teams to stay in the game. However, in Saturday’s championship game, the starters shot 8-17 (47%) and were able to win by 21 points.
“I’ve loved our energy and defensive intensity,” Alford said. “If we continue to defend at a high level, it will open up transition opportunities on offense.”
The Foresters are also doing a great job getting everyone involved. In their three games, nine players are averaging 6.0 points and 14.0 minutes per game or more. The depth on this team could be a factor when the mid-season hits, considering the long season and injuries.
One of those players that have shined off the bench is freshman Lane Sparks. Sparks, a 2021 graduate of Greensburg high school, is averaging a team0high 12.0 points per game, grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game, shooting 44% from three, and has even thrown down two spectacular dunks.
The freshman looked sharp like someone who didn’t let the first big game get to his emotions.
“Once you get in the game, you get into the flow of everything, and then it slows down a lot more,” Sparks said. “I was very comfortable playing.”
In his first two games of the season, Sparks dropped 15 and 17 points, which led the team in both games.
“I really wasn’t expecting it, but I just got in, and did my role, and did my thing,” Sparks said.
Huntington will be challenged three times again this week, playing their only home game Tuesday at 7:00 against the University of Northwestern Ohio in a non-conference matchup. Then they head to the Terry Polston Hoops For Hope Tournament at Grace College. They are slated to take on West Virginia Tech Friday at 4:00 who has receiving votes, and Grace Christian University Saturday at 12:00.