The Hillsboro boys varsity basketball team will make its fourth straight appearance in the championship game of its own Gene Steighorst Invitational later today. The Hawks used a strong second half to defeat Windsor on Friday, 75-66, in a tournament semifinal game. Hillsboro will meet Eureka later tonight for the title.
The first quarter didn’t indicate that the contest would be hotly contested, as the Hawks jumped out to a 22-9 lead. However, the Owls, now coached by former HHS assistant Jason Gillman, would answer right back in the second quarter, taking a 33-31 lead into halftime.
According to senior Garrett Pinkley, the discussion at halftime was all about defense. “Coach put an emphasis on getting stops at halftime, and when we get stops, our offense produces,” Pinkley explained. “Our defensive effort in the third quarter really drove us through the rest of the game.” Another aspect of the game on the offensive side was corrected as well. “We had quite a few turnovers in the first half, so we tightened up in the second half,” Pinkley added.
So in the third quarter, the defense started getting stops, and the offense started putting the ball in the basket again. The Hawks had their best offensive output of the game, scoring 25 points, while holding the Owls to 17 to take a 56-50 lead heading into the final eight minutes. The Hawks maintained that lead and added to it a bit as well in the fourth, to take the nine point victory.
Hillsboro pretty much stayed with its core group throughout the course of the game, playing only six athletes. Field goal percentage was high (55%), as was free throw shooting (87%). HHS did commit 11 turnovers. Leading the way for the Hawks was Ethan Worley. He pumped in 22 points, draining three three-pointers, and adding six rebounds, and five assists. Mark Moore was right behind with 20 points, only missing one of eight shots from the field. He also had six rebounds and two steals. Evan Worley was the other Hawk to hit double figures, scoring 16 points. He grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.
Pinkley netted eight points, while Zach Whaley chipped in with seven points. He was five-of-six from the line, grabbed six rebounds, and dishing out five assists. He said it was a different experience to play against Coach Gillman. “It was a little strange seeing him with a different colored shirt on and coaching against us,” Whaley noted. Logan Smith rounded out the scoring with two points.
Hillsboro now faces Eureka, a team that had to go to overtime to advance over Park Hills Central. Whaley said the 4-1 Hawks will have to be at the top of their game tonight. “To play the best we can play, we need to continue to play as a team,” he said. “Talking on defense, running transition, rebounding, playing together and playing as a family will be key. We know that we can achieve great things if we play to our potential.”
Tip off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the high school gym.