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No. 2 Preston Builds Lead in Great Basin Conference
In a critical conference matchup, Preston earned a valuable victory over No. 5 Pocatello
Published: 1/20/2020 4:19:23 PM
Brandon Baney
Content Manager/Broadcaster
brandon@idahosports.com

Friday night's boys basketball matchup between No. 5 Pocatello and No. 2 Preston could be summed up by one word: transition.

As the Great Basin 10 Conference game transitioned from the first half to the second, Preston's transition offense found a new gear, and Preston's six-point halftime lead ultimately transitioned into a 24-point runaway.  Preston won 79-55, and the Indians' transition game was all anyone could talk about afterwards.

Preston held a precarious 32-26 lead at halftime, but outscored Pocatello 28-14 in the third period to go up 60-40 heading into the final quarter of play.  Preston head coach Tyler Jones attributed his team's second half surge to more fast break opportunities.

"I thought we just wanted to pick up the tempo," Jones said.  "The first half was kind of back and forth, but we feel like we're at our best when we're pushing the tempo and playing fast, and I thought that we were able to get out and get some run-outs and some easy buckets, and that kind of opened up our inside game.  But, again, we just want to push it and play fast."  

Describing the third quarter as "a rough quarter for us," Pocatello head coach Joe Green said his team's lack of offense ultimately sparked the Preston run game. 

"We didn't score (much) in the third quarter, we didn't take great shots," Green said.  "And then they're out running.  They're so athletic, and have played a long time together.  It's tough to stop their fast break when you don't score very often."

Preston forward Scotty Dunn lead a quartet of double digit scorers for the Indians.  Dunn finished with 20 points, while center Ty Hyde chipped in 18.  Point guard Luke Smellie scored all 12 of his points in the second half, and Cole Harris added 10.

Pocatello forward Kaden Hales led all scorers with 23 points.  Senior guard Isaac Brown tossed in 15.

Friday's contest also marked the season debut for Preston senior guard Cooper Hobson, an All-Conference selection from a year ago. 

Hobson injured his right knee this past May.  Surgery in June was followed by seven grueling months of rehabilitation.  Then, just two weeks ago, Hobson was cleared to return to practice.

Hobson checked in at the 1:30 mark of the first quarter and played roughly five minutes in total.  With 2:45 to play before halftime, he caught a pass on the right wing, calmly took a step back, and knocked home his first 3-point shot of the season.  Hobson said he knew the shot was going in as soon as it left his hand.

"As soon as I got that pass out from the inside, caught it, and shot it in rhythm, it just felt good and went in," Hobson said. "It feels great.  It feels like all of the hard work has finally paid off.  And it feels good to come back and finally play with my teammates again, instead of sitting on the bench and watching."

Hobson finished with five points in total, and Coach Jones said his role will continue to grow with each passing week.

"Obviously he can be a huge asset for us.  Last year, he had 69 3-pointers during the season," Jones said.  "And tonight it was good to see him back on the court with a smile on his face.  I was glad to see him hit that 3 to give him a boost, but obviously down the stretch, each week he's going to get a little more comfortable and confident, and he could be big for us down the stretch."

With the win, Preston remained unbeaten in Great Basin 10 Conference play, at 6-0.  Preston is also 12-1 overall.  Pocatello slipped to 5-2 in conference and 10-3 overall.
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