Hillsboro Boys Open Season Tuesday Against Rochester

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Hillsboro’s boys basketball program had an unveiling of sorts Friday night, Nov. 19, as fans–mostly parents and grandparents–donated sports drinks as an entrance fee to see two scrimmages. The first pitted the freshman versus a sophomore squad; the second saw a white-clad squad made up of four potential, will-see-plenty-of-action starters against a black-uniformed team with three potential varsity starters. Both teams were supplemented by younger  junior varsity to-be candidates. Both games consisted of two fifteen minute running clock halves.

It was a small sample size from which to draw conclusions, but according to Coach Kyle McBrain, the Toppers will rely on a man-to-man defense. Offensively, perhaps because of the confident personalities of the players involved, shots will be abundant. It wasn’t run and gun during the scrimmage, but a shot clock wasn’t needed either.

The Toppers do carry big fan expectations on their collective backs. Four starters return from last year’s 14-0 squad, but to spirited opponents the hope of giving Hillsboro their first loss in 2021 will be motivation. Gone to graduation is Jace Tuetken; gone to the wrestling program is 6’4’’ Ian Malloy, who hopes to play college football next fall. New to Hillsboro’s program are several transfers, most notably Blaine and Jace Stewart. Blaine is a senior, Jace a sophomore, and each fits well with the running game philosophy.

The returning starters are guards Will Christian and Drake Vogel; past players Gavin Matoush and Blaze Helton are physically strong underneath, which means rebounding and good interior moves. Last year’s seventh man, senior Bryce Connor, was used where the need was greatest last season, so he played both underneath and as a wing. Friday evening he seemed more confident running the floor.

Coach McBrain named Christian, Vogel, Matoush, Helton, and Blaine Stewart as his tentative starters for Tuesday night at Rochester, but he emphasized the word tentative. Hillsboro doesn’t have an overpowering big man, but their average size is good. Vogel, for example, is 6’2’’ as a guard, but he has hops. The five on the floor will have good quickness and a confident attitude (especially Matoush and Helton) on defense. 

Hillsboro and Central State Eight foe Rochester have met the past two years. Rochester won there 68-65 in 2018; last season Hillsboro won 65-56 in Topper land. Because it’s the first game of the season for each, current game tapes aren’t available. Last year’s Rocket team seemed guard-orientated. Win or lose, the game will serve as a tune-up for the Kaskaskia Classic beginning in Carlyle this Saturday, Nov. 27.

Junior varsity action in Rochester begins at 5:30 tomorrow evening, Nov. 23, with the varsity game to follow.

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