Trailing at halftime 32-21 against Monarch (9-8, 3-4 in conference) Jan. 31, Horizon basketball couldn’t find any offensive flow against the lengthy, athletic defensive unit of the visiting …
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Trailing at halftime 32-21 against Monarch (9-8, 3-4 in conference) Jan. 31, Horizon basketball couldn’t find any offensive flow against the lengthy, athletic defensive unit of the visiting Coyotes. However, the Monarch zone couldn’t work their magic in the second half as defense led to offense for the Hawks as the home team exploded for 57 points to run away with a 78-53 win.
“We got frustrated,” Horizon coach Chad Wilson said of his group’s offense in the opening half. “We discussed that making shots cannot dictate our tempo and energy defensively. We struggled against their zone. It was big, we didn’t get out and run in transition, and we missed our open looks. The emphasis at halftime was to dictate energy with our defense and shoot the ball with confidence.”
Jump-starting the offense to a 12-0 run and the 33-32 lead to begin the third quarter, defensive pressure at the rim and perimeter by sophomores Brock Wisne, Tabor Robison and Xavier Harris allowed Harris and Robison to ignite the offense in transition. Getting easy baskets and letting the Hawks’ players excel in space, this talented unit found its groove and never let it up the rest of the way.
“It was our defense that got us out running. We chart defense stops, and we want to get three in a row. We call it a kill, and we didn’t have a single one in the first half. I think we had nine, 10, 11 straight possessions where we got a stop (to start the second half), and it just turned everything around. Then, all of a sudden, we are shooting with confidence on the other end,” Wilson said.
Putting the game at a comfortable advantage for Horizon two minutes into the fourth at 56-45, senior Daric Conkright’s awareness, passing, and scoring ability enhanced his team’s chances with 14 points in the second half — including a 4-point play.
“He showed great leadership tonight. A couple of kids got in a scuffle, and Daric went over and got our guy out of there. He’s kind of a silent captain, leads by example and is the hardest working kid on the team,” Wilson said. “He’s been in a slump the last couple of games, and it’s great to see him break out. We talk about playing our best ball in this stretch run, and we need Daric to play like he did tonight.”
Outscoring Monarch 29-8 in the fourth, Wisne recorded seven points, including the first five points in the frame. The opening possession included a back-door alley-oop from Conkright to Wisne as the packed-out crowd roared in excitement and overwhelmed the Coyotes from that play forward.
“I don’t even know what his (Wisne’s) ceiling is because it’s incredible. But as good as he’s been each time you have seen him, he’s a better kid every day. In practice, in the halls, he’s just a pleasure to be around,” Wilson said with a grin. “He’s a great kid, and I have no idea what his ceiling is. It’s honestly unlimited.”
With seven sophomores finding minutes for the Hawks (12-5, 4-2 in conference) Friday, Wisne led the group with 20 points as Robison, Harris, and Esmond Griffin recorded 14, 11, and 11, respectively. Conkright filled the stat sheet with 18 points, six rebounds, and a team-high six assists and three steals. Wisne led the team with 10 rebounds.
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