BY TOMMY WIGGINS
The Houlka Wildcats needed everything in Coach Jimmy Guy McDonald’s bag of tricks to fend off the North Pontotoc Vikings in the finals of the South Pontotoc Tournament, 63-52.
“We live and die with our defense,” said Coach McDonald. “Our defense was the difference in the ball game.”
The Wildcat defense did make the difference in this ball game.
Houlka always uses a tough defense, whether its a matchup zone or full court press, they make you work to score a basket. In the final period, that defense finally slowed the Vikings down and enabled Houlka to pull away with the win.
“We shot the ball well tonight,” said North coach Chris Pettit. “They did a good job with their help defense and they have got a good quick team.”
That quickness held the Vikings to only three baskets in the final period.
In the first quarter, Houlka came out strong, building a 12 points lead at one point, but a Jordan Dilworth dunk and free throw at the end of the first cut the lead back down to nine points, 20-11.
In the second quarter, the Vikings would cut into that lead and make it a two-point game at 24-22 behind Shawn Berryhill’s basket. Houlka would answer with an 11-1 run to end the second period, led by Wesley MacIntosh and Greg Naugle to make it 35-23 at the half.
The Vikings would make another run in the third period behind Dilworth, Jon Estes and Shayne Adams and actually led with 48 seconds to go with Adams draining a 3-pointer to make it 44-41. Houlka would answer as Chris Huggins nailed a 3-pointer of his own with three seconds left to tie the game at 44-44.
In the fourth it was all Wildcats as Houlka outscored North 19-8 in the final period to take the trophy.
“It was a very tough game and we just came up a little short in the end,” said Pettit.
“We’re beginning to play better, especially on the defensive end and it showed tonight,” said McDonald.
Wesley MacIntosh led Houlka with 20 points. Chris Huggins added 16 and Greg Naugle-15 in the win as Houlka improved to 9-5 on the season.
Jordan Dilworth led North with 18 points and Jon Estes added 14 in the loss.