When the Hillsboro boys’ basketball team walked on the floor at Vandalia to begin an abbreviated season Friday evening, Feb. 5, they faced a deeper (in terms of numbers) foe whom the resembled in height and speed. That made for a close game -- until the third quarter, when Topper sophomore Blaze Helton’s three from the top of the arc broke a 41-41 tie.
Gavin Matoush scored three the old fashion way, scoring underneath while being fouled after Will Christian penetrated to make a floater in the lane; after the three quarters Hillsboro led 58-48, and Vandalia’s catch-up game plan (1-2-2 zone press and foul if the traps didn’t work) allowed the Toppers to win the last quarter 18-12 while salting the 72-60 victory away.
The Vandals made only 6 of 14 free throw attempts (43%), and they were guilty of 19 team fouls, 13 in the second half. Hillsboro was 12 of 19 from the line (63%) but committed only 16 fouls, including one technical called late in the third quarter. Two of the 14 Vandals who dressed for the contest fouled out; none of the eight Toppers was disqualified. Only two had three fouls; no one had four. Hillsboro barely won the turnover battle - the Vandals had 15, the Toppers 14, but the Toppers had only one turnover in the decisive third quarter.
Matoush, a junior playing varsity for the third season, led his team with 18 points, including four of five from the line; Drake Vogel, also a junior in his third season of varsity action, added 17 based on five treys and two of two made free throws. His first trey opened the Toppers’ scoring parade. Lone senior Jace Tuetken, who has point guard duties on offense, added 12, as did Helton. Another sophomore, Christian added 9 and contributed a solid floor game with two steals and four assists while committing only two turnovers. Big man Ian Malloy was second in rebounding with six (Matoush had nine) while contributing four second-half points. Bryce Connor and Adison Pollard gave the starters effective rests; Connor and Helton were off the bench early and often to complement the offensive flow, and Pollard had quickness he used to challenge Vandalia’s guards.
As a team, the Toppers shot 51% from inside the arc and 49% from behind the arc for a combined 49% - a good percentage for an opening game on a foreign court. Both teams had 18 in-close field goals, but the Toppers 8 three were two better than Vandalia’s six.
Vandalia also had four men in double figures: Gaige Beall (15), Mitch Casey (13), Carson Ruot (10), and Case Goldsmith (10).
The Vandals fell to 0-3; they’ve also lost to Effingham and Mounds Meridian. The Toppers are 1-0 as they host a CS8 opponent, Rochester, tonight.
The Vandalia freshman/sophomore group dumped their Hillsboro counterparts, 60-36, although the Toppers jumped to a 4-0 lead. Freshman Deklan Riggs led Hillsboro with 11. Adrian Harston added six, Dylan Lessman seven, Pollard five, Mitchell Lowe three, Dillon Devlin two, and Payton Brown two. Also playing were Landon Summers, Nathan Brown, and Eliot Lentz. Four Vandals had 10 each.
Tonight’s action begins with a Rochester possession at 6 p.m., while Wednesday’s games here against Greenville are tentatively set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
February 5 at Vandalia
Hillsboro 13 19 22 18 72
Vandalia 13 16 19 12 60
Hillsboro (72) - Gavin Matoush 18, Drake Vogel 17, Jace Tuetken 12, Blaze Helton 12, Will Christian 9, Ian Malloy 4. Totals: 26-53 12-19 72.
Vandalia (60) - Gaige Beall 15, Mitchell Casey 13, Carson Ruot 10, Case Goldsmith 10, Matthew Hagy 5, Chase Laack 3, Cole Tarkington 2, Nick Rosborough 2.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 8 (Vogel 5, Tuetken 2, Helton 1); Vandalia 6 (Beall 3, Laack 1, Hagy 1, Casey 1).
Records: Hillsboro (1-0); Vandalia (0-3).
Hillsboro 9 4 7 16 36
Vandalia 12 11 19 18 60
Hillsboro F/S (36) - Deklan Riggs 11, Dylan Lessman 7, Adrian Harston 6, Addison Pollard 5, Mitchell Lowe 3, Payton Brown 2, Dillon Devlin 2.
Vandalia F/S (60) - Well 10, Hagy 10, Wollerman 10, Nestrick 10, Hipsher 8, Kelly 7, Politte 3, McNary 2.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 4 (Riggs 3, Lowe 1); Vandalia 8 (Hagy 2, Well 2, Hipsher 2, Politte 1, Kelly 1).
Records: Hillsboro F/S (0-1); Vandalia F/S (1-2).