VANOSS — The eighth-ranked Vanoss High School boys basketball team got off to a bit of a sluggish start against Wetumka in a Class A District Tournament championship game Saturday afternoon inside the Kenneth D. Smith Memorial Fieldhouse.
However, the Wolves put together a pivotal 14-0 run to end the second quarter and begin the first half and pulled away for a 46-28 win.
The Wolves improved to 16-5 on the season and will host Keota in Class A Regional Tournament winner’s bracket game Thursday night. Keota upset Riverfield Country School 58-55 in a district title contest in Porum.
The Savages head to the loser’s bracket at 11-6.
In the girls game, despite being off since Jan. 29, the top-ranked Lady Wolves shot past Weleetka 100-18 to claim a district title. Vanoss extended its season-long winning streak to 21 games — and are now 21-0 heading into Class A Regional Tournament action. A scrappy Weleetka team, which suited up just five players — fell to 1-6.
The Lady Wolves host Porum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in regional tournament play at Vanoss.
Vanoss 46, Wetumka 28
The Savages were ahead the entire first quarter which saw the Wolves commit six turnovers.
Wetumka’s Alex Freeman hit a shot in the paint to put the visitors ahead 9-6 before Riley Vazquez drove to the basket and scored to end the period and get Vanoss within 9-8.
“We came out a little bit shaky, but I have Wetumka a little bit of credit for that. They’re a pretty good basketball team,” Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt said.
Alex Allford got Wetumka within 16-13 after scoring on a nice backdoor cut off an assist from Mason Allford.
That’s when Vanoss would take control.
The Wolves scored the next 14 points, capped by a jumper from Carter Perry at the 6:53 mark of the third quarter that put the home team on top 30-13.
A steal, layup and three-point play from Dillon Deatherage — that followed a technical foul on the VHS youngster — gave Vanoss a comfortable 39-18 lead at the 4:01 mark of the third period.
“This team is really good defensively when we’re locked in. And when we don’t turn the ball over and control the boards, we’re extremely hard to score against,” Hurt said. “I was proud to see our defensive effort really turn up after the first quarter.”
Vanoss struggled from the free-throw line the entire contest, finishing just 11-of-22. Wetumka made 4-of-7 free shots.
Perry and Deatherage each scored 14 points to pace the Vanoss offense. Perry, who came off the bench, sank 5-of-10 field goals, two 3-pointers and 2-of-5 free throws. Deatherage finished 5-of-8 overall and went 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.
Braydon Cannon had an all-around good contest for the Wolves, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Erik Hatton had just five points but the VHS post player also had a team-high 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Freeman paced the Wetumka with 12 points and five rebounds, while Jordan Osborn added 10 points. Both players had one 3-pointer.
Vanoss 100, Weleetka 18
The Lady Wolves hadn’t played a real game since Jan. 29 but you could hardly tell.
Vanoss bolted to leads of 16-2 and 35-4 to quickly put the overmatched Lady Outlaws away.
“They played well for having a long layoff. But we’ve had some good practices so I wasn’t really surprised about that,” said head coach Jonathon Hurt. “I think the kids are hungry to go make a good playoff run.”
Despite running the full Vanoss roster in and out of the game consistently, Vanoss led 63-12 at halftime and 82-12 — following a 19-0 run in the third period — heading into the fourth quarter.
There were plenty of Vanoss highlights to go around.
• Senior Emily Wilson spent a lot of time camped out around the 3-point arc where she finished 6-of-8 for all of her team-high 18 points.
• Sophomore Madi Faust was a force in the post for Vanoss. She finished with a double-double that included 16 points and 12 rebounds.
• Senior Emire Ellis did plenty of Emrie Ellis things. The University of Arkansas signee finished with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and went 1-of-1 from the free-throw line — all in the first half. She also had an impressive eight assists in the contest.
• Senior Lizzy Simpson had 13 points through three quarters and also had eight rebounds and three steals.
• Abbi Snow and Alexus Belcher both missed double figures with eight points apiece. Belcher also had four rebounds and four steals.
• Maddi Dansby collected seven points, including a late 3-point basket.
• Sophomore Jaycee Underwood capped off the big VHS game after her fourth-quarter 3-pointer gave Vanoss its 100th point.
Vanoss finished with 10 triples, including one each Rom Relieigh Rush and Trinity Belcher.
Freshman Ambree Smith led Weleetka with seven points. Junior Taylor Baker was next with four. The Lady Outlaws finished 0-for-9 from 3-point territory and committed 27 turnovers.