PURCELL — The Vanoss Wolves may have put Class 2A on notice. They certainly got the attention of one of the best teams Class A has to offer.
The Wolves got a strong first outing from newcomer Cade Paulin, big plays from senior Sando Hill and a stifling defense to soar past Ft. Cobb-Broxton 64-36 Saturday evening at Purcell High School.
It was the season opener for Vanoss, while the Mustangs fell to 1-1. Ft. Cobb opened the season Friday with a 74-38 road win over Indiahoma.
“I’ve been telling people I thought this would be the best team I’ve had since I’ve been at Vanoss,” said head coach Jonathon Hurt following the game. “One of the biggest things that has changed is their effort and mentality in practice every day. I’m not having to coach effort and defense anymore. “
The Mustangs have won the last four Class A state championships.
“I don’t think a lot of people here today realize how good that team is. Ft. Cobb would probably be the No. 1 team in Class A if rankings were out right now. We looked really, really good,” Hurt said.
In the girls opener, the Lady Wolves — expected to be one of the contenders in Class 2A — shook off a sluggish start and darted past Ft. Cobb 48-35.
“The girls have lost some of the hunger they had last year, and they need to find it extremely quick or they’re going to have some wakeup calls along the way,” Hurt said.
Vanoss 64, Ft. Cobb 36
The Wolves imposed their will on the Mustangs right from the start, rushing out to leads of 9-0 and 16-5.
Paulin, who played for Stratford last season, scored seven of his game-high 19 points during the early VHS run, while Hill scored the first five points of the game.
“Cade played extremely well today. They’ve gelled well and share the basketball well,” Hurt said.
Ft. Cobb closed the gap to 18-13 after one period and was still within 23-17 after two free throws by its star, Kellen Hines, at the 6:40 mark of the second quarter.
However, Vanoss scored the next seven points on a pair of free throws each by Hill and Ryan Dennis and a 3-pointer from Tucker Bucher.
Vanoss carried a 33-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Hill picked up right where he left off in the first half by scoring back-to-back baskets to open the third quarter. He laid the ball in off a nice alley-oop pass from Paulin and scored on a putback at the 6:33 mark to extend the VHS lead to 37-21.
The Wolves later went on an 11-0 run to effectively put the game out of reach. During that stretch, Hill scored four more points and assisted on a basket by Riley Cooper. Bucher added a 3-point as the Wolves’ lead expanded to 48-23 at the 3:09 mark, and the rout was on.
Vanoss went to the fourth quarter with a commanding 52-28 advantage.
Hill ended his night with 17 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and six assists. Paulin led all scorers with 19 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Cooper and Dennis added nine points apiece for the locals, who sank 8-of-21 3-point tries. Ft. Cobb finished just 2-of-14 from long range.
Hines, who has committed to Southwestern Oklahoma State University, scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds to pace the Mustangs.
Vanoss won the battle of the boards 38-22.
Vanoss 48, Ft. Cobb 35
The Lady Wolves were clinging to an 18-16 lead at halftime before picking up the pace in the third quarter.
Vanoss sped the game up and opened the second half with an impressive 13-4 run to finally get some separation. The Lady Wolves got fast-break buckets by Lizzy Simpson, Alexus Belcher and Caitlin Byrd and a putback by Simpson during an 8-0 spurt to begin the third period.
Senior Laramie Doffin ended the run with back-to-back rebound baskets of her own that helped push the VHS lead to 31-20 at the 2:51 mark of the third period.
Avery Wilson sliced the Ft. Cobb deficit to 36-27 with a drive to the basket early in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Mustangs could get no closer.
The Lady Wolves could have made life easier for themselves if not for 26 turnovers and 16 missed free throws.
Simpson scored 11 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to lead the Lady Wolves, while Emrie Ellis overcame a slow start and finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds (all in the second half) and four blocked shots.
“Lizzy has been practicing hard every day, and that usually equates to playing well,” Hurt said.
Byrd scored nine points for Vanoss, while Rileigh Rush chipped in eight.
Wilson scored eight points to lead Ft. Cobb and was the only one on her team to reach double figures.