Boys basketball: Hayden Hodgson, Genoa-Kingston crash boards, turn up press in win over Indian Creek

Genoa-Kingston's Hayden Hodgson goes strong to the basket against an Indian Creek defender Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, during their game at Indian Creek High School in Shabbona.

SHABBONA – Genoa-Kingston didn’t have to worry too much about missed shots early on against Indian Creek, as the Cogs rode a red-hot start to a 14-point lead in the first five minutes.

But as the shots started falling less frequently, the lead continued to grow as G-K dominated the boards in a 66-39 win Wednesday.

Coach Griffin McNeal said he thought coming in the Cogs (9-13) had a chance to be dominant on the offensive glass. Hayden Hodgson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who had a team-best six rebounds, five offensive, said he heard the message loud and clear.

“I saw opportunities to crash,” Hodgson said. “Coach emphasized that before the game, so we just did what he said.”

G-K shot 55% in the first half, and most of its nine misses were in the final three minutes after the Cogs built an 18-4 advantage. But the lead still expanded to 27-6 after the first quarter, thanks in part to the dominance on the boards.

McNeal said he tries not to overstress crashing the boards at the expense of defense, but he thought Wednesday was an opportunity to reverse that.

“We stress transition defense running back, so we don’t want to get it too much in their head,” McNeal said. “But we knew today was an opportunity to get on the boards. That was a focal point coming into the game.”

The Cogs finished with a 42-24 rebounding edge and a 26-6 advantage on offensive rebounds. G-K took 70 shots in the game, while the Timberwolves (6-16) took 44.

“It was not our strongest game on the boards, either,” Indian Creek coach Nolan Govig said. “You have to be able to turn and find somebody and box them out instead of looking at the shot. I think that was our issue tonight. We were turning and looking instead of finding a guy.”

The Cogs also fueled a lot of their offensive success through their press, forcing 26 Indian Creek turnovers. Josh Bunting had five steals to go with 15 points, tied with Hodgson for the team high.

McNeal said the Cogs can be streaky shooters at times, and both ends of the spectrum were on display Wednesday.

“We have guys who some days we can throw it up and we can’t miss,” McNeal said. “We went through spurts today where we had a ton of good looks and the ball just didn’t go in the basket. What we preach to them is you’ve got to make it easy, get the easy ones when you can. But they came out of the gates shooting the ball well. That always helps.”

Jeffrey Probst led the Timberwolves with 16 points, nine rebounds and two steals.

Indian Creek turned it over 20 times in the first half, leading to 19 G-K points. The Cogs led by as much as 30 in the first half. The lead never dipped below 24 in the second half, and G-K reached the 30-point margin needed for the running clock early in the fourth quarter.

Govig said it was not the team’s best performance, especially since the Timberwolves were fresh off a 62-40 win against Westminster Christian on Saturday.

“I felt like defensively we didn’t bring the intensity we brought last Saturday when we played Westminster Christian,” Govig said. “We started out in man, and I didn’t feel like we were getting off our man and sitting on the help side. Lots of easy lay-ins for them, and that leads to a lot of easy kickouts as well.”