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HASKELL - After two miserable seasons of Harmony Grove Cardinal basketball, first-year head coach Dexter Hendrix seems to have the program going in the right direction. After falling in the season opener to Poyen, the Cardinals had won 7 of 9 entering Tuesday.
With an undefeated 5-3A conference record entering the night, the Cardinals stayed unbeaten in conference play with a low-scoring victory over the visiting Fountain Lake Cobras. With less than 60 combined points scored on the night, the Cardinals walked away with the 34-23 victory.
â€śWe are 3-0 in conference and that is all that matters,â€ť Hendrix said. â€śThat is the only thing we are worried about right now. We are very thankful to be 3-0 and we are going to continue work hard and improve and try to get another win on Friday night.â€ť
The Cardinals jumped out to a 10-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, sparked by buckets from four of five starters in the first eight minutes.
The game continued to be a slow-paced with not many points scored throughout the second quarter. After multiple games of upbeat scoring, the Cardinals were rather quiet, along with the Cobras. Leading 17-11 at the break, the Cardinals were looking for anything to spark a run to put the game away in the second half.
Harmony Grove hit 7 of 18 shots in the first half but missed all three 3-point attempts.
At the 2:17 mark of the third quarter, the Cardinals took a 10-point advantage at 24-14 over the Cobras. At the end of three, Harmony Grove led by 11 at 27-16. With just eight minutes of action left, the Cardinalsâ€™ defense continued to stymie the Cobras.
With the scoring still nowhere to be found, Fountain Lake could not get any closer than 30-20 in the fourth quarter. With a size advantage, the Cardinals used good inside play to keep a double-digit lead on the Cobras.
After a late and-1 from Fountain Lake, the Cardinals moved to 3-0 in conference play with a 34-23 win.
Despite winning the game, Hendrix still feels his team has a lot of work to do when it comes to handling pressure.
â€śWe will see plenty of pressure Friday night,â€ť Hendrix said. â€śWe have been harping on it and we will continue to harp on it these next few days in practice.
Episcopal is fueled by great guard play, something that carried the team deep into the state playoffs a season ago.
â€śWhen they really try to guard us with tough man-to-man, we have to be able to handle that pressure,â€ť Hendrix said.
As for how Hendrix and company plan to stop Episcopal, he said focusing on the pressure brought by the guards will be key.
â€śIf we can handle the pressure and get the ball inside (it will be ok,)â€ť Hendrix said. â€śThey have very good guards that are going to try and keep us from feeding the ball inside. If we can get that entry pass, I think we will be able to compete with them.â€ť
Center Hayden Burchfield led the Cardinals with 11, while Drake Wilks added seven in the win. The Cardinals also put together another nice night handling the ball, turning the rock over just six times.
With the win, the Cardinals own a three-game win streak and stay unbeaten in conference play.
Harmony Grove moves to 8-3 on the year and will tip off against unbeaten Episcopal at 7:30 p.m. Friday.