HURRICANE — The boys basketball team from Hurricane High School has only played in two games so far this season, but they have already improved a great deal compared to last year’s team.
While Hurricane lost 69-60 to Spanish Fork at home on Wednesday night, the Tigers are 1-1 to start the season and already have half as many wins as they did all of last year.
“We have some good basketball players,” Hurricane head coach Todd Langston told St. George News after the game. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to tonight, but you know what, it’s early in the season and we’re going to get better.”
Spanish Fork (1-2) started off strong, taking a 15-11 lead after the first quarter. Cade Olsen hit a 3-pointer for the Dons at the buzzer and then scored the first bucket in the second quarter for the visitors, who jumped ahead 23-13.
Hollis Homer and RJ Wright scored back-to-back buckets for the Tigers, but Hurricane was plagued by turnovers and missed some open shots from the field as Spanish Fork took a 31-19 lead at halftime.
“We fought and we played hard, but we had a lot of turnovers, especially in the first half,” Langston said. “I thought that we played a lot better in the second half.”
After halftime, the Tigers came out with renewed energy and got back into the game. They cut the Dons lead to 5 at 39-34 with three minutes left in the frame.
Then Carter Slack nailed two free throws for Hurricane and Nifai Iloa scored a layup off a nice inbounds pass, bringing the tally to 46-40 for Spanish Fork at the end of three quarters.
An active fourth quarter saw Iloa make a big block and follow it with a score, and Kruz Gardner had a steal and a 3-point play for Hurricane, but the Dons kept up their big lead.
“We missed a lot of opportunities at the free-throw line, where if you make those shots maybe it’s 2 or 3 points at the end instead of 7 or 8, where it’s hard to come back from,” Langston said.
Spanish Fork was led to the win behind seniors Rhoman Eyere (17 points) and Ryan Flake (15 points).
Meanwhile, Slack totaled 15 points for Hurricane and Gardner netted 13 for the Tigers in defeat. Both seniors grabbed 7 rebounds each. Homer finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
“We got a lot of size,” Langston said. “We’ve got to attack the boards and we’ve got to get better. That’s our goal.”
Hurricane was hurt at the free-throw line, whereas a team the Tigers shot 61 percent (17-for-28). The home team also had a hard time handling the basketball, making 22 turnovers in the contest.
As they move forward into the season and the Region 10 schedule, Langston knows where he wants to see the Tigers improve.
“Take care of the basketball, that’s our emphasis, and play good defense,” Langston said. “If we can do those two things, and get good shots. We have a lot of talent on the team, we need to get the ball inside and use our height.”
Hurricane next takes to the hardwood on Dec. 9 in a neutral tournament on the road against Monument Valley, from Kayenta, Arizona.
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