Jan 16, 2018
Dan Johnson is not much of a night owl.
If the Hillsboro basketball coach had one nit to pick about his team’s No. 4 seed at the Parkway West Tournament next week, it’d be that the Hawks will play No. 5 seed Lafayette in the opening round at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
That’s a little late for his blood.
“We played the 8:30 game last year and I don’t think it started until almost 9:30 because there was a double overtime game before,” Johnson said.
If the late start messes with his team, it would be the first sign of anything bothering the Hawks this winter. Newly minted as the No. 9 large school, Hillsboro (16-0) is rolling through its schedule. The Hawks won their own Gene Steighorst tournament in early December and then grabbed the crown at Park Hills Central’s Bob Sechrest Jr. tournament after Christmas.
With eight seniors and nine returning players from last year’s 25-4 Class 4 sectional qualifier, Hillsboro has a wealth of talent and experience that has yet to be fazed.
“They’re very business-like, but not in a boring way,” Johnson said. “It’s different. Last year we had two guys that played varsity basketball. This year we have nine.”
Four players are averaging double digits in scoring. Senior forward Gavin Pinkley has been an all-around standout and leader. The 6-foot-8 Pinkley is putting up 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and four blocks per game.
Also stuffing the stat sheet are Michael Brewer (17 points, 8 rebounds), Isaiah Martin (12 points, 4 rebounds) and Ben Lampkins (10 points). Lampkins has been deadly from the outside as he’s connected on 58 percent of his 64 3-pointers.
Hillsboro’s first-round draw at Parkway West is tough as it gets last year’s runner-up, and if all goes according to seeds, Hillsboro would see top seed and No. 2 large school Hazelwood Central (15-1) in the semifinal Wednesday. Central will play No. 8 seed Parkway West at 7 p.m. Monday.
It’s a tough draw, but that’s why Johnson likes this tournament.
“It wouldn’t have bothered me if we were the No. 8 seed,” Johnson said. “We went 1-2 there last year. It’s a great field with a bunch of great coaches.”
The No. 7 large school, Parkway Central (11-3) is the No. 2 seed. It plays De Smet (2-12) at 5:30 p.m. while No. 3 seed Liberty (8-5) takes on Parkway South (6-6) at 4 p.m. Monday.
Before Hillsboro gets to turn all its focus on the Parkway West Tournament, it’ll have to see how it fares against one of Jefferson City’s best. Hillsboro will face Helias (10-5) in the middle of the MFA Oil-Break Time Shootout at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena. It’s one of five games slated for Saturday.
Other local games of interest include No. 6 small school Whitfield (12-4) facing Class 4 contender Sikeston (10-1) at 3:10 p.m. Parkway South plays Hickman (2-12) at 6:20 p.m. Tickets cost $8 at participating schools or $10 at the door Saturday.
Johnson is looking forward to seeing how the Hawks handle a really good Helias and then have to turn around and jump into a competitive Parkway West field.
“This team won 25 games last year and the goal was not to win 26 this year,” Johnson said. “We want to be as good as we can be. We definitely have our own little gauntlet the next four games in a row.”