Hubbard heats up, holds off Dragons
The Eagles had a strong
second quarter, led by Kurtis Drummond’s nine points.
By STEVE RUMAN
NILES — Trumbull County residents on Friday awoke to frigid temperatures and an abundance of snow. However, as the day wore on, the snow ceased and the thermometer rose above the freezing mark.
Later in the evening, it appeared as if the Hubbard Eagles copied the day’s weather pattern.
The Hubbard offense was ice cold in the first quarter of a non-conference game at Niles. However, the Eagles heated up as the evening wore on, and as a result they came away with a 62-53 win over the Red Dragons.
Robert Wigfall scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth period to lead a balanced Hubbard (1-1) attack. Kurtis Drummond and Corey Hitt chipped in with 13 and 12 points respectively.
Niles (1-3) was paced by Danny Rosenberger (17 points) and Ryan Frantz (15 points).
Niles raced out to an early 13-2 advantage, as Hubbard missed its first 12 shots from the floor. Through the first 7:49 of the opening quarter, the Eagles’ only points came from a pair of Hitt free throws. However, back-to-back baskets by Wigfall and Bobby Thompson cut the Niles lead to 13-6 at the end of the period.
In the second stanza, Hubbard made nine of 16 field goal attempts to grab a 30-25 halftime lead. The Eagles then never allowed the Dragons to get closer than four points.
“We began our night in very similar fashion to the way we played our opener at Salem,” said Hubbard coach Rick Fox. “There, we shot 32 percent on the night. We stressed the importance of starting strong tonight, which we didn’t do. But to the kids’ credit, they never gave up and they put themselves in a situation to win the game.”
Fox was also pleased with his team’s effort from the foul line. The Eagles converted 14 of 15 free throws.
“Again, that’s something we worked on because we shot fifty percent at Salem. The extra work payed off,” Fox said.
Hubbard’s strong second quarter was sparked by Drummond, who scored nine points in the frame. His sharpshooting offset an eight-point burst by Frantz.
“That kid [Frantz] is a heck of a shooter, and we couldn’t afford to let him get hot while we were struggling to find our groove,” Fox said.
Hubbard took a 42-38 lead into the fourth quarter, then Niles cut its deficit to just two points on a basket by Ryan Berenics. However, the Eagles scored six straight points to pad their lead to 48-40. During the spurt, baskets by Drummond, Wigfall and Hitt were all set up by Marc Kanetsky assists.
“We opened up in a zone, but we knew that Hubbard is a good shooting team and we knew they would eventually shoot us out of the zone,” said Niles coach Rick Kover. “Once we switched to man-to-man, we struggled.”
Kover was pleased with his team’s start, but noted that the Dragons have shown a tendency to surrender momentum.
“We’ve yet to figure out a way to go strong for an entire game,” Kover said. “We seem to get a good run, then we lose our focus and we’re never able to put together that second run. These guys have to realize that once they gain momentum on a team, they have to continue to apply the pressure. They have to stay focused from start to finish.”
Hubbard will look to maintain its momentum tonight when it travels to the Youngstown Chevy Centre to play Chaney.