Woodward Upsets Hughes 71-64 in Hard-fought Opener


The Woodward Bulldogs upset Hughes High School on Friday night winning by a score of 71-64 in their season opener. Going into the game, Hughes was ranked second in the city poll, while Woodward was ranked sixth. 

Heading into the contest, Woodward coach Jarelle Redden wanted his guys to "play with energy and as a team". He then referenced his college days and explained, "That's how I played. I want my team to play the same way". 

"(Senior) Terry Durham is going to be big time this year. He's improved a lot this off-season and I think he's in for a big year." Redden continued when asked who to watch. "Demontez Cooper, my point guard, he's going to surprise some people. Dionte McBride should have a big year as well."

On the other side, Huges coach Bryan Wyant said Hughes will have its own star. "Giovanni Santiago is a leader. of the five seniors, he has the most experience. He's the point guard, so he;s capable of leading this team. He's in for a special season."

Santiago has a Division I scholarship offer in addition to six Division II offers. 

Wyant also noted things may be difficult with trying to overcome the loss of last year's star and CMAC Player of the Year Cory Long, who now plays for Stony Brook University. "Cory was a great player for us. A guy like him is irreplaceable" That being said, I think we have a number of guys who can step up and try to dill the role he did. There's five seniors who will all step up like a committee system."

As for his team's chances against Woodward, Wyant said, "If we rely on our team staples, defense, sharing the ball, we'll have a chance to win regardless."

At the start of the game, Hughes looked like the better team, led by Santiago posting a 9/4/4 split in just 8 minutes of game time. They were able to get out in transition and get whatever they wanted on offense, scoring 27 points in the first quarter as a team. Woodward managed to score 18 of their own, however allowing them to stay within striking distance.

In the second quarter, Woodward managed to keep Hughes out of transition and slowed the pace of the game, holding the Big Red to just nine points in the entire quarter. The Bulldogs scored 16 points to trim the deficit to two points at the break. 

Noticeable adjustments were made to the Bulldogs' defensive strategy, as they came out in the second half controlling the game's tempo. In all, they outscored Hughes by nine to take home the seven point victory in front of a sold-out home crowd and jam-packed student section. 

Hughes kept the game close deep into the fourth quarter, even leading with less than four minutes to go. But Terry Durham and the Bulldogs were too much to handle when it was all said and done.

Durham, who earned player of the game honors, along with Cooper, who also played an incredible game, score 54 for the team's 71 points. Durham tallied 33 points, tying Giovanni Santiago for the most by any player. He also grabber 15 rebounds, had two steals, two blocks, and made 13 free throws, all punctuated by two powerful slam dunks on the fast break. 

Cooper scored 21 points while also handing out five assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. He showed tremendous maturity and poise in controlling the ball and putting his guys in position to score. 

Santiago had a sensational game for Hughes, as he scored 33 of the team's 64 points and went 16-16 from the foul line. His 11 rebounds were impressive for a point guard, and he had eight assists and two steals on top of that. 

After the game, Redden noted his team's resiliency."We were down in the first quarter, but we didn't let it get us down. We won the second, third and fourth quarters. I'm proud of my team and the way they stood tall."

When asked about what he thought contributed the most to the win, Durham said, "Our mindset. We knew we needed to get the win and get it done, and we played like it."

"It felt great to get this win, especially being the underdog," Cooper said. "This is one of the bigger games on the schedule, so to get a win was nice."

Woodward returns to action on Tuesday, December 5th, facing Little Miami on the road. 

Hughes plays Western Hills in a CMAC match-up this Friday, December 8th on the road. 

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