LAUREL HILL — With all due respect to the person that said, “It’s never over until it’s over,” Friday’s District 1-A boys basketball game between Central and Laurel Hill School was over long before the final horn.
The Hoboes came out firing hitting six 3-pointers in the first quarter and 11 in the game on their way to a 70-28 win.
Less than 20 seconds into the second half the Hoboes pushed the lead to 35 points to start the running clock for the remainder of the game.
It didn’t take long for Laurel Hill (2-0, 1-0) to set the tone for the game.
Freshman Bryson Cooper hit the first of the Laurel Hill five seconds into the game. Senior Tee Calloway followed with a 3-pointer of his own 23 seconds later as the Hoboes were off and running.
And run they did a relentless full-court defense kept the Jaguar offense out of sync and on edge all night.
“Our game plan was to set the pace with our defense and our quickness,” Laurel Hill Coach Kent Zessin said. “We were fortunate to come out and shoot the ball really well tonight, which comes directly from our defense.
“The harder we played defense the better we were shooting. We were over 50 percent shooting. Our kids were really involved in the game and really enjoyed the game.”
Jaguar center Zac Wright scored the first of his seven points at the 7:10 mark in the first quarter to pull Central to within four points of the Hoboes.
Cooper’s second 3 of the game pushed the Laurel Hill lead to 9-2. Three free throws by the Jaguars cut the Hobo lead back to four points with 6:06 left in the first quarter and that’s as close as Central would get.
Calloway’s second 3-pointer sparked a 12-2 Hobo run to end the first quarter.
Calloway finished the first quarter with 11 points on three 3-point baskets.
Chris Saylor joined in the fun hitting the first of his three 3-pointers with 1:53 left in the first quarter.
The Hoboes continued to take the game to the Jaguars in the second quarter outscoring Central 25-6 in the period.
The long shots continued to fall for the Hoboes, but they showed they could take the ball inside as well.
With 6:27 left in the half Laurel Hill point guard Josh Hartzog turned in the play of the game when he banked an assist off the backboard into the waiting hands of center Lane Strickland. Strickland finished the play with an emphatic slam dunk.
Later in the quarter Max Smith showed his ability to play above the rim. Smith stole a Jaguar pass and took the ball the length of the floor for a dunk of his own.
With the Hoboes leading 46-13 to start the second half the only question remaining was how long it would take for them to score the two points needed to start the running clock.
The answer came when Cooper hit two free throws 18 seconds into the third quarter.
Not even the running clock to keep the Hoboes from running up and down the floor for easy scores Laurel Hill scored 19 points in the third quarter and to push the lead to 45 points.
Zessin pulled most of his first and second string players midway through the third quarter allowing those that don’t usually play an opportunity to join in the fun.
Backups William Rorech and Lane Alford picked up baskets for the Hoboes in the third. Fittingly enough Alford’s was a 3-pointer.
The Hobo reserves continued to play the fourth quarter as Laurel Hill coasted to the win.
Calloway led a trio of Laurel Hill players in double figures with a game-high 10 points. Saylor scored 11 and Cooper 10.
Hartzog had 10 assists to go along with six steals and six points from his point guard position. Cooper topped the Hoboes with seven steal.
“Our kids were enjoying playing the game tonight,” Zessin said. “We are a well-balanced team with several weapons and all of those weapons were used tonight.”
Justin Able led Central with 10 points. Wright’s seven points came a game after he scored 44 against Pensacola Christian.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.