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Hoover girls hoist 100 shots in handing Valley its first loss

FALLING ROCK, W.Va. -- Anyone who doesn't believe in the concept of quantity over quality should check out coach Greg Ullman and the Herbert Hoover girls basketball team, because the Huskies are validating that reverse saying game by game.

It was on display again Saturday night as Hoover jacked up an arm-tiring 100 shots, including 41 3-point attempts, and found the net enough to knock off previously unbeaten Valley 67-55.

The Huskies have seemingly employed a basketball version of the air-raid offense en route to a 7-3 record, and while the team's shooting percentages aren't anything to hang on a refrigerator, the wins suit Ullman just fine. 

"You can probably tell we're not the greatest shooters in the world," Ullman said. "So we do everything we can to get as many shots as possible and it worked tonight. [Taking 100 shots and 41 3-pointers] is not too out of the ordinary. We shoot a lot of 3s and we think we've got some girls that can put it in the basket."

As unusual as the Huskies are on offense, they are equally different elsewhere as the team utilizes a hockey-like shift system in which five players sub in at a time.

On Saturday, 12 different Hoover players saw action, and a game-long full-court press produced 45 Valley turnovers and really put the Greyhounds behind the 8-ball early as the Huskies sprinted out to a 19-5 lead after the first quarter.

Hoover's pressure worked in large part due to Valley's relative lack of a true point guard, but Valley coach Richard Cantrell believes his team can win any game by riding his post player.

And even after a loss on Saturday night, it's tough to argue.

Valley senior Alexis Payne did her best Dwight Howard impression, scoring 24 points, grabbing 28 rebounds and blocking nine shots, and all of this despite fouling out with 4:59 remaining.

She also found herself handling the ball quite a bit as the Valley offense devolved into Payne and guard Abbie Buchan taking an inbound pass, dribbling the length of the floor and going straight to the rim with surprising efficiency.

Buchan finished with a game-high 25 points and the duo combined to take 37 of the team's 44 shots from the field.

"Alexis is what you call a player," Cantrell said. "She can shoot from outside and inside. She's a smart girl. She's taking college classes and she keeps her eyes on the prize. We lost this one by a few points, we've got to go back to the drawing board, but we'll do all right. Ms. Payne will take us right on down the road."

Payne, with a lot of help from Buchan, almost brought Valley (8-1) all the way back against all odds, cutting the Hoover lead that had reached as many as 18 points early in the third quarter all the way down to eight midway through the fourth.

But Payne picked up her fourth foul after being called for a technical in the second quarter, and while she managed to play the first 11 minutes of the second half cleanly, she got caught reaching under the basket just as Valley was making its biggest run. Her night, and as a result Valley's, was over.

Credit Hoover as well. Every time Valley would chip away at the Huskies' lead, one of the seemingly never-ending barrage of 3-pointers would fall.

Bethany Romine was especially huge as she cashed in on six of Hoover's 12 3-point makes, including three big ones to account for the Huskies' first nine points of the fourth quarter. She finished with a team-best 18 points.

"It's back to percentages," Ullman explained. "If we miss four in a row to let them back in the game, we assume we're going to hit the next one or two. It's a percentage thing with us and we're not bashful about shooting."

Cantrell made no bones about the fact that Saturday was a litmus test for Valley, which is now entering a more difficult part of its schedule after cruising through the first eight games.

Still, the coach saw enough positives to remain confident in his squad.

"I see this as a good experience tonight," Cantrell said. "I'm not disheartened. I think we have some good ball ahead of us this year."

Kari Harding scored 11 points for Hoover while Emma Chapman added nine points and seven steals. Caroline Thornburg also scored nine for the Huskies.

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pritt@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.

 


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