ROAD WARRIORS: Riders looking to close out month-long road stint on Tuesday

Jan. 29—It has been over a month since the Hulbert Riders had the chance to play in front of the Rider faithful in Rider Field House later this week.

The Riders have been road warriors since Dec. 19 playing all road games. But that all changes on Thursday, Feb. 1 when the Riders return home home to face off with the Okay Mustangs. HHS has played nine straight road games since they beat the Porter Pirates at home 53-20 in December.

"It is important, it has been a while since we played at home. It'll be good for our kids to have that to get their senior night and not having to travel [as much]," HHS Head Coach Jordan Hill said.

While the Riders end the season with three out of four games at home, they have one more game on the road before they can come home. On Tuesday, Jan. 31 the Riders will hit the road to play the Warner Eagles. Riders go into Warner to play an Eagles team that ranks ninth in 2A play. When the two teams met earlier this season, WHS walked away with a 60-44 win at Hulbert.

Just because the Riders return home doesn't mean their schedule gets any easier. When the Mustangs roll into town they rank as one of the top 1A teams in Oklahoma.

HHS ends the week with a Saturday, Feb. 3 showdown with the Gore Pirates, who according to Hill area always a tough match-up.

"We have a tough schedule next week the No. 9 2A team, then we play the No. 1 team in class 1A at home and then we play another good team in Gore," Hill said. "Three good teams in a row before playoffs, that is how I like it. We won't see an easy team back to back it will be tough every night and you will need to give your best effort."

Despite the daunting task ahead, Hill expects the Riders to play competitive basketball throughout the three games. Hill and the Riders are especially looking forward to their rematch with the Mustangs after getting dropped by nearly 50 earlier this season.

"Our goal is to try and go 3-0. Our boys are amped and ready to get out there," Hill said. "[Okay} beat us by almost 50 in the first game. Our boys want to come out and want it to not happen again. We want to prove to our home fans what we are capable of."

Since that game, the Riders have improved both offensively and defensively. During the early parts of the season, the Riders' offense wasn't playing at its full potential. HHS opened the season with some inconsistent offense. In one game they would for over 60 points and then the next they would limp to less than 40.

But the Riders' offense has been ticking along as of late. Overall the Riders are averaging nearly 50 points per game for the season, but over the last nine games, the Riders are over 50 ppg.

"We got to a point where we are comfortable in executing our offense," Hill said. "For the least two years, we have struggled on offense. We have done a really good job of that here lately. We are really just fine-tuning defense. We are fine-tuning our half-court press. We got our core guys with about 7 or eight guys that we are comfortable with and feel like click well."

Part of the offensive issues were due to the Riders missing key players due to injury. With various minor injuries keeping players out for up to a month at a time, the Riders were missing major pieces of their offense in the early stages of the season.

"I knew when we got healthy that we were capable of this," Hill said. "Consistency and scoring have begun to come around. It is going to be hard next week because we will get tired but they are a good measuring stick, especially Warner."

The Riders and the Mustangs kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30. HHS returns home on Thursday, Feb. 1 against the Mustangs before wrapping up the week at home against the GHS Pirates on Saturday, Feb. 3.

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