By Tom Schultz For the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — ORION, Ill. — Fulton started off its 2013-14 season with high intensity, meeting up with the Orion Chargers in the first game of the Orion Tip-Off Classic on Monday night. The Steamers took control in the third quarter, preying on the Chargers’ high emotions that reached a peak with a technical foul, facilitating the 60-57 Fulton win.
But, the tables were turned in the fourth quarter and Orion nearly stole the victory.
The night started off slowly for both teams as both teams were slow out of the gate with numerous turnovers. It was a clear indication that this was indeed the first game of the season for both teams.
“We had way too many turnovers. Now we just gotta clean it up and get better, its game one, lots of time left,” Steamers coach RJ Coffey said.
Fulton began to pick up speed in the second quarter, showing quickness on the court and forcing several turnovers. But the Steamers didn’t have the control over their team speed to keep themselves from giving the ball right back to the Chargers.
Matt Dail and Zach Barber led the offensive onslaught in the third. Dail got hot from behind the arc sinking three 3-pointers, while Barber added one of his own and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
“We just both found it. Without our teammates getting us open we don’t even get those looks,” Dail said.
Dail shot the two emotionally charged free throws making one and missing the other after a technical foul put him at the line.
Moments before his trip to the line, Dail’s teammate, Jason Osbourn, with fresh legs off the bench, hounded Charger forward Chris Dhabalt, knocking the ball from Dhabalt’s hands. They both chased the ball down and got tangled up on the floor fighting for the loose ball. Dhabalt grabbed hold of Osbourn’s leg as he was about to begin his trek down court with the ball. The referee’s immediately called a technical giving Fulton two shots from the line.
“They lost their head a little bit in the third quarter so we took advantage of it, started rolling with it and took the lead,” Fulton junior Zach Barber said.
Free throws proved to be an important piece to the Steamers victory as both Dail and Barber missed only one between them.
“Those are huge free throws. We practice that a lot at practice,” Barber said.
“(Free throws were) very important because we only won by three,” Dail added. “If we don’t make a couple of those we could be a tie game, we could down a couple points.”
Orion took the break between the third and fourth quarters to recharge. They matched the Steamer intensity and closed the 10-point gap down to two. During that time Fulton committed a technical foul of its own when junior guard Seth Sanderson was called for a technical after the end of a play in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers weren’t able to get any closer as the Steamers held on for the three-point victory to begin the season and the Tip-Off classic.
FULTON 60, ORION 57
FULTON (1-0) – Matt Dail 6 3-4 20, Jake Wilging 2 0-0 4, Devin Kuehl 2 0-0 4, Zach Barber 6 6-6 20, Seth Sanderson 1 0-0 2, Jason Osbourn 1 1-1 3, Kyle Huebner 2 1-3 7
ORION (0-1) – Payton Diamond 1 0-0 2, Clay Vanderheiden 3 1-1 8, Christian Allen 7 1-2 15, Noah Clarke 7 4-4 21, Koby Stopes 2 0-0 4, Chris Dhabalt 2 1-3 5
FULTON 12 16 23 9 – 60
ORION 11 16 16 14 – 57
3PT – FULTON 9 (Dail 5, Barber 2, Huebner 2), ORION 6 (Vanderheiden, Clarke 3)
Total Fouls – Fulton 14, Orion 10
Fouled Out – None
Technical – Fulton: Sanderson, Orion: Dhabalt