If opponents expect to keep up with the Hillsboro Hawks boys varsity basketball team this season, they better have a very deep bench. The Hawks sent waves of players at the Ste. Gen Dragons Monday in a quarterfinal game of the Fountain City Classic at DeSoto. The result was nine Hawks scoring and a season opening 77-42 victory over the Dragons.
It’s not that the Hawks have massive numbers on their roster. It’s the fact that they have so many interchangeable parts and different player combinations that can get opponents reeling. Take for example the fact that the team’s three leading scorers, Ethan Worley, Mark Moore, and Evan Worley, spent several minutes on the bench and didn’t score in one quarter each. It’s a formula that keeps players fresh, and wears down the opponents.
“I was very pleased with our team’s effort and energy,” head coach Dan Johnson explained. “You always expect some first game wildness, but I felt like we pushed through those times without letting bad plays affect our focus and our effort.”
The Hawks looked like a seasoned, veteran team Monday, even though there are quite a few new faces. After the Dragons got the first bucket, before the first minute had elapsed from the first quarter, Ethan Worley drained a three to put the Hawks on top. A free throw by Ste. Gen tied the score 3-3, but an easy inside basket by Evan Worley gave Hillsboro a lead they’d never relinquish. Another Ethan Worley three pointer forced an early Ste. Gen timeout with 4:24 to go, and the Hawks on top 10-3.
The Dragons kept it relatively close as the first quarter ended, with Hillsboro leading 14-8. But the Hawks would put the game out of reach in the second quarter, outscoring Ste. Genevieve 25-10 and taking a 39-18 lead into halftime. The second quarter belonged to Moore. He hit a three with 6:33 to go to give his team a 19-8 lead, and then a minute and a half later, executed a pretty give-and-go with Garrett Pinkley to make it 21-10. Thirteen seconds later, he stole a ball from an opponent and put in an easy layup to make it 23-10 and force the Dragons to talk it over during a timeout. Out of the timeout, he hit a three, then 20 seconds later hit another one, and then assisted with a pinpoint long pass to Eric Schneider for another basket. By that time, it was a 31-10 lead, as the Hawks concluded a 12-0 run.
Finding who to try to stop on the Hawks will be difficult if Monday is any indication. Ethan Worley led the Hawks in the first quarter, while Moore did in the second. Evan Worley was the top scorer in the third and fourth quarters, but seven different Hawks scored in the fourth.
And then there are the intangibles. While Evan Worley led the team with 18 points, and Ethan Worley and Moore each scored 17, there were players like the senior Pinkley who was all over the floor, setting picks, grabbing rebounds, making solid passes and scoring nine points of his own. His role has markedly changed this season. “It was tough losing our two biggest scorers in (Michael) Brewer and (Ben) Lampkins last year,” he said. “But we can’t try to replace them this year. I’ve taken on more of a leadership role this year with all the new guys on the team. I know this year I will have to score more efficiently to win close games. Coach relies on me to make the right decisions and bring the team together.”
Schneider and Ryan Cox notched four points each, while Logan Smith scored three. Werner Finder also netted three points, while Zach Whaley scored two. Whaley did a good job of running the offense and pushing the ball up the floor. Ethan Worley and Moore also took their turns pushing the offense. As Worley said, “We are great when we talk, make the extra pass, and run hard!”
The number two seeded Hawks will return to DeSoto for a semifinal game against Rockwood Summit on Friday. Summit was an 11-point victor over DeSoto in the final game of the night on Monday. Tip off Friday is set for 8:30 pm at DeSoto High School.