Freeport defense clamps down on Obama Academy in second half, keys victory

Friday, December 30, 2022 | 8:25 AM

Down by 12 with 16 seconds left in the first half, the Freeport boys basketball team welcomed the halftime break to change strategy.

The adjustments worked, as the Yellowjackets held Obama Academy to 15 points in the second half to register a 50-43 victory Thursday night in the Freeport Holiday Tournament.

Dean Furer and Brady Sullivan scored 10 points each to lead a balanced attack for the 7-2 Yellowjackets.

Junior Torrien Perkins scored his team’s first nine points of the second quarter as the Eagles had command. A 3-pointer by Xazier Wilson gave Obama (3-4) its biggest lead of the night, 28-16.

“We were finally us in that second half,” Yellowjackets coach Sean Devinney said. “We had a lackluster start and didn’t think we played to our potential at all in the first half. We needed a big change, and our guys played their tails off in the second half.”

Freeport outscored Obama, 16-6, in the third quarter, finally taking a 35-34 lead on a tip-in by Gavin Croney at the buzzer.

The Yellowjackets defense held Perkins to a pair of free throws in the third quarter, often fronting the talented guard.

Said Devinney: “He’s a really good player. We tried to make it tough for him to receive the basketball. We had one in front of him and had backside help. We figured the less he had the ball in his hands, the better off we’ll be.”

Perkins, perhaps frustrated, received a technical for bumping a player. Eagles coach Naron Jackson still praised his body of work, a 23-point night.

“Torrien Perkins plays hard for us,” Jackson said. “He a glue guy. We go as he goes. We don’t run a lot of things for him. He basically gets the ball with hustle.”

After Perkins gave Obama what would be its last lead of the night, 36-35, a minute into the fourth quarter, Freeport went on a 9-0 run to take control.

A 3-pointer by Croney and a basket by Sullivan put the Yellowjackets ahead, 44-36.

Seven players scored for Freeport in the second half.

“That’s going to be all year for us,” Devinney said. “It can be anybody’s number any night. That’s the special thing about this group, and they embrace it.”

When Rodgers fouled out with 40 seconds to go, several Obama players joined in the Freeport huddle while Jackson was making a replacement. A technical was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Jackson said it wasn’t a timeout and his players could be anywhere on the court.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Jackson said. “We moved the ball well early. We created some turnovers and got some easy buckets. Their coach did a great job adjusting to what we did. We missed some shots late, and a couple calls went the other way.”

Slippery Rock defeated Brashear, 60-35, in the preliminary game.

Team MVPs were Zach Clark of Freeport, Perkins, Quinn Parson of Slippery Rock and Trent Milner of Brashear.

The two-night event featured a classic format where the matchups were pre-arranged to avoid City League rivals Obama and Brashear from playing each other

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