By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
One couldn’t blame Garber’s boys if they weren’t happy to see the Christmas break.
The Wolverines, 6-2, took a five-game winning streak into the holidays, including a 62-54 win over Crescent Dec. 14, which avenged a 48-38 loss to the Tigers at the Frontier Shootout Dec. 4.
“It’s good and bad,’’ said Wolverines coach Marc Hatton. “It’s nice to get the break, but when you’re playing well and shooting the ball well .... hopefully, we’ll get in the gym over break and work hard and continue to shoot the ball well and play with a lot of confidence.’’
The Wolverines had their highest offensive production of the season in a 77-50 win over Dover on Dec. 18, their last game before the holidays.
“I know it’s cliché to say this, but it’s just been a good team effort,’’ said Hatton about the streak. “We’re shooting the ball better. Like everybody else says when you put the ball in the hole, it makes the game a lot easier.
“We’re a good enough team inside that when we’re making our outside shots, it makes us a pretty tough team.’’
The two Crescent games contrast Garber’s season. In the first meeting, the Wolverines blew a halftime lead.
“They got after us,’’ Hatton said. “We couldn’t make a shot.’’
In the second meeting, Garber “shot lights out’’ as three Wolverines — Eric Killman (24), Logan Vandiver (16) and Jordan Avants (10) were in double figures.
“The key for us is different guys have been shooting well,’’ Hatton said. “It just hasn’t been one or two guys.’’
Killman has 41 points in the last two games, while Vandiver has 33. Dallas Hunt had 12 against Dover and 14 in a 51-46 win over Hennessey Nov. 30.
Avants led the GHS attack in a 54-45 win over Pioneer on Dec. 11 with 18 points. Brandon McCleave had 10 against Pioneer. Jeremy Newton had 12 in a 51-46 overtime win over Hennessey.
Avants, who quarterbacked the Wolverines to the second week of the playoffs, has been playing hurt. He injured a shoulder in a second-round playoff game against Rejoice Christian, which will require surgery.
He hurt his back against Crescent.
“He’s pretty banged up,’’ Hatton said. “I don’t know if he will be 100 percent.’’
Killman, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, “can get his shot off anytime he wants to,’’ Hatton said.
“He can create a lot of stuff,’’ Hatton said. “We want him to concentrate on penetrating to the basket and dishing off to others. We want his shot to come to him. We keep telling him it will come. He’s done a good job for us.’’
The 6-0 Vandiver has been effective hitting threes. In the right situations, the senior forward he can post up on opponents.
“We try to take advantage of what we have,’’ Hatton said. “Our guys have different abilities, and we try to take advantage of what we’re good at. Logan has shot the ball very well.’’
Hunt, a sophomore and lone non-senior in the rotation, has been “very consistent.’’
“He’s grown up a lot this season,’’ Hatton said. “Last year he had the ability, but he lost a little bit of confidence in his shot, which affected his play.’’
The 6-8 Newton “hasn’t played as well as he would have liked to,’’ Hatton said. The senior post has been in foul trouble much of the season.
“We’re trying to find the balance between being aggressive and not getting into foul trouble,’’ Hatton said. “That’s slowed him down a bit in getting a groove. We need to have him on the court more.’’
VanCleave, a 5-11 guard, is the quickest of the Wolverine starters and is the team’s “defensive stopper.’’
Senior 6-1 senior center Jonathan Bowlin has filled in well inside, a necessity for the Wolverines with Newton having foul trouble and Avants hurt. Seth Swaim, a 6-2 forward, has been a solid rebounder.
“Our guys understand their roles,’’ Hatton said. “They know their parts and they do a good job of it. We have guys who can go outside and guys who can go inside. We have a little bit of versatility.’’
The break allows Hatton to put in some “different wrinkles’’ they haven’t had a chance to put in practice yet.
“The key for us the rest of the year is to shoot the ball well,’’ Hatton said. “We have been doing that, and if we keep doing that, we can play with a lot of people. I’m real optimistic, but we won’t have any easy games after Christmas. There’s a lot of good competition out there.’’
The Wolverines host South Haven, Kan., Jan. 5. South Haven lost to Mulhall-Orlando in the finals of the recent Pond Creek-Hunter Tournament.
“Playing good teams like that will get you ready for the playoffs,’’ Hatton said.
Most of the seniors have championship rings from being on the Wolverines’ state championship team as freshmen. Avants, though, was the only one to see any measurable amount of playing time.
“That’s been a little bit of motivation for them,’’ Hatton said. “They want to leave their own legacy. They didn’t get to play much that year. They want to go out and establish their own identify. That makes them hungry.’’
Hatton, too, is hungry. He returned to coaching last season after being an administrator in both the Garber and Waukomis systems. He is coaching the junior high boys this year as well.
He was the superintendent at Waukomis, but missed the direct contact with students.
“That’s why I got back into coaching and stuff,’’ he said. “It’s time consuming, but I enjoy it. I have a group that wants to win and work hard.’’