Hornets hold off Dayton for first district win

Jan. 17—HUNTSVILLE — After being delayed due to weather, Huntsville hit the court Wednesday evening for its district matchup against Dayton.

While things started slow for the Hornets, the second quarter saw a surge from the Huntsville squad that gave them a lead that never wavered.

Huntsville locked up its first district win of the season with a 64-57 decision against the Broncos to move to 1-1 in District 16 play.

"The guys are representing and they try hard. We still do a lot of things that against a good team could come back and bite us," Huntsville head coach Jay Oliphant said.

Out of the gate, Huntsville struggled to hold on to the ball for much of the first as Dayton was able to make a few runs. The Broncos rushed out to an 8-4 lead before Huntsville closed the quarter with a 9-4 run to make it a one-point game after the first eight minutes.

Turnovers have been a part of Huntsville's issues this season. On a handful of occasions, Huntsville has missed passes, had traveling calls and missed opportunities that kept opponents in it.

"We continue to stress it in practice. At the end of the day, they have to be ball players when they get out there," Oliphant said. "Some of the turnovers we have are bonehead. I know some of them will come from us playing fast, but we have to clean up the bone head ones."

Junior post player Jabari Washington played a key role in getting the spark from the Hornets. The junior was able to hit a dunk and on the ensuing play broke up a passing lane.

His efforts helped tie the game with three minutes remaining in the first quarter and he was a force the rest of the way.

"He has the potential, he just has to be consistent. He played well tonight. We just need the same effort on Friday night against Porter," Oliphant said.

The Hornets season will come and go with the play of junior guard Ayden Pierson.

Against Dayton, Pierson added 25 points and was a force on the court throughout the entire game against Dayton.

While he had a game-high in points, he is a player that opposing teams will try and take away in nearly every game for his ability.

"For us to have a chance, he has to go 20-plus," Oliphant said. "He is our best scorer and good teams are going to take him away. Any time he can score 20, we have a chance."

Sophomore guard Chad Johnson was another pivotal player this season and against Dayton. Johnson added 13 points for Huntsville.

Now, the Hornets will have to prepare for another game in a short week. With just one day of prep, the Hornets will hit the road for their first district road game.

Huntsville will square off against Porter at 7 p.m. Friday in Porter. The game will be broadcast on the 101.7 KSAM YouTube.

"Not at all. We just have to get up and get ready to play," Oliphant said.