Hillsboro tops Helias 78-69
Hillsboro scored just nine points in the first quarter, then opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run. The Hawks wouldn’t have any trouble scoring the rest of the game in a 78-69 win Saturday against the Crusaders during the MFA Oil Shootout at Mizzou Arena.
“Offensively, we played like we prepared,” Helias coach Josh Buffington said. “We knew it was going to be tough with their matchup, we did a good job of mixing in different things offensively.
“But defensively, we did not play as we prepared. We cannot give up 44 points in the paint, 13 points off second chances and expect to win a game.”
Helias held the ball for nearly a full minute on the game’s opening possession, getting a 3-pointer from Nick Brandt in the corner to start the game. Brandt added another 3 to put the Crusaders ahead 6-2.
“We’re used to Nick doing that,” Buffington said. “He’s an intensity guy for us and he can hit some big shots and really spark us.”
Helias never trailed in the opening quarter. Isaiah Sykes finished the first with a 3-pointer from the corner with :06 left, putting the Crusaders ahead 15-9, their biggest lead of the game.
Buffington said the intensity and communication were exactly where they needed to be in the first quarter.
“It’s easy to do those things when you’re winning and you have some success,” Buffington said. “But can you do that when the tide has turned?”
On Saturday, the Crusaders could not.
Gaven Pinkley, Hillsboro’s 6-foot-8 senior forward, scored the Hawks’ first three points in the second quarter. Mark Moore banked in a shot and then Ben Lampkins scored to give the Hawks a 16-15 lead less than two minutes into the quarter.
Helias battled closely with Hillsboro for the rest of the second quarter, but foul trouble took a toll on the Crusaders’ rotation, leaving a smaller lineup on the floor to finish the half.
“It hurt us a little bit when we got into some foul trouble in the second (quarter) and we were forced to go small,” Buffington said. “We just didn’t do a very good job fronting on mismatches or helping on the back side, which we had to do.”
Helias trailed 33-31 at intermission, but Brandt gave the Crusaders a spark with a 3 to start the second half. Brandt shot 5-of-10 from 3-point range to finish with 15 points.
There were eight lead changes to open the third quarter, but Hillsboro took the lead for good with an 8-0 run to make the score 47-40. Lampkins, who had just two points in the first half, made a trio of 3s in the third quarter to extend the Hawks’ lead to 57-45 by the end of the quarter.
Helias’ defense brought the pressure in the fourth quarter, forcing eight Hillsboro turnovers in the final eight minutes.
The Crusaders closed the gap to 64-58 with 4:30 to play. Nathan Bax scored a layup off a turnover to make it a four-point game. The Crusaders then forced another Hillsboro turnover on the ensuing possession, but were unable to capitalize to make it a one-possession game.
“Had we gotten it to two (points), it might have been a different game there with 3:30 left,” Buffington said. ” They called a timeout and made some good adjustments against our press.”
Lampkins, who finished with 14 points, hit his fourth 3 of the game with 2:22 to play, pushing the Hillsboro lead back to 10 points at 71-61. The Hawks shot 6-of-7 from the field in the fourth quarter and made all eight attempts from the free-throw line.
Pinkley was named the game MVP for Class 4 No. 5 Hillsboro (17-0), finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Michael Brewer scored a game-high 23 points, while Isaiah Martin added 11 points.
Landon Harrison scored 19 points to lead the Crusaders, posting 10 points in the fourth quarter. Sykes finished with 17 points and Ben Cooper added 12 points.
Buffington said he was appreciative of the Crusaders being given the opportunity to play in the final edition of the MFA Oil Shootout.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids,” he said. “I wish we could have done more with that opportunity today, but you have to give a lot of credit to Hillsboro.”