Hunter boys,  girls race past  Little Milligan

By Marvin Birchfield

   In its first test of the season, Hunter showed why it will be considered as one of the favorite teams in both boys and girls junior high basketball.
   On Tuesday night, the boys had a convincing 68-22 win over Little Milligan while the girls also made their presence felt by downing the Lady Buffaloes by a 41-12 score.
   In the boys contest, it was a fast start from the Tigers that saw them take a 26-1 lead by the end of the first period.
   "We did a better job at crashing the boards tonight than what we have been, and that's the one thing I told them -- that it didn't matter what team we played, we did a better job at it," said Hunter coach Chris Collins.
   It began with a shot inside the paint from Hunter Taylor, who led all scorers with a total of 14 points on the night.
   Hunter rolled off the first 21 points until Gregory Sams hit one of two free-throws with 27 seconds left to get Little Milligan on the board.
   The Tiger defense was relentless with the press, as the Buffaloes had trouble getting the ball up the floor.
   "The first quarter the press did its job, but we played harder and they need to take this and keep carrying it over," said Collins. "I saw some good things. We were looking for the open guy and not just one person stands out, but we still have a long way to go."
   Little Milligan managed to open the second period with a 15-foot jumper from Corey Crumley.
   A rebound and putback for a three-point play was converted by Jordan Rapert, and a steal and fast break by Chris Carter gave Hunter a 30-point advantage with 5:00 left until halftime.
   Carter struck again on the Tigers' only three-point goal of the contest, as Hunter continued to control the affair by building a 49-13 lead at the half.
   There was not much offense for Little Milligan in the third period, with its only field goal coming off a 12-foot jumper from the corner by Sams.
   "This is a real young team and they did more than what I ever expected," said Little Milligan coach Jason Mills. "I have a lot of first-year players who have never played and I'm putting them to the wolves, so anything they do is positive."
   Hunter kept the Buffaloes at bay in the final period by giving up just six points, as the Tigers celebrated their first victory on the season.
   Bryant Collins poured in 10 points, and Jake Oliver and Jordan Rapert both added nine for Hunter. Sams led Little Milligan with eight, followed by Daniel Bailey, who contributed six points.
   "I have a lot of players that get scared when they see much bigger guys out on the floor, but that's part of it," said Mills. "They're still learning but are definitely going to get better."
   In the girls action, it was more of the press taking its toll on the Buffaloes, as Hunter enjoyed a 19-point advantage by halftime.
   A goal inside the paint by Brittney Westberry, followed by a steal and bucket from Hannah Colbaugh, set the tone for the remainder of the night.
   "At first we were a little sluggish on defense, then I called a time-out and had a little heart to heart on it, so from then on they did well," said Lady Tigers coach Tammy Taylor. "We've worked hard on our defense all summer, but we still have some improving on it."
   Hunter poured in the first seven points before Megan Holtsclaw broke the press and made a lay-up with two minutes left in the first period.
   Hunter led 9-2 at the end of the first and added to its advantage in the second by scoring 14 more points.
   A couple of baskets by Jessica Campbell toward the end of the half gave Hunter a 23-4 lead heading into the locker room, as the Buffaloes managed just two free-throws coming from Kelly Stout and Holtsclaw.
   The Tigers opened up the third period with an eight-foot jumper along the baseline from Emily Asher, while Jessica Ketterman worked the boards down low for a couple of scores.
   "We did a real good job on rebounding, and we have some pretty good size girls who like to push, beat, and bang, so they did really well boxing out -- and even so did the smaller girls," said Taylor.
   Little Milligan didn't score again until :07 left in the quarter, when Jennifer Perry drained a 15-foot jumper.
   "The point guard I have is only a sixth grader and she's not use to handling pressure like that, but we came out in the first quarter and held them almost as much as they held us, which is a big accomplishment," said Little Milligan girls coach David Cable.
   The Buffaloes were unsuccessful in making much of a rally in the final period, but did convert the only three-point shot of the contest on a shot from Holtsclaw in the final minute.
   Colbaugh and Ketterman led the Tigers in scoring with six points apiece, while Holtsclaw paced the Buffaloes with nine points on the evening.
   "We have a lot of seventh and sixth graders but we'll get better by tournament time," said Cable. "We just have to get some of the nerves out of the way, and it showed in the first quarter, but I think we'll grow up."