Toppers Bully Bulldogs

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Hillsboro’s boys began a long week of play in Staunton Monday evening, March 1, needing to win four games in five days in order to stay undefeated before the finale here against Pana on Monday, March 8. Though the game appeared ragged at times, the Toppers accomplished two missions with their 72-44 victory -- they won their tenth game, and the starters received more than their usual amount of rest as they won 72-44.

The Bulldogs employed a 3-2 zone with Sam Best in the middle of the three at the free throw line; he would drop back into the lane to clog it if the Toppers tried to penetrate on a dribble drive. That strategy kept Jace Tuetken scoreless in the first half, but Gavin Matoush slipped free to bank in eight points while Drake Vogel converted steals into lay ups and made the first three he took. That shot made Hillsboro’s margin 17-0.

Uncharacteristically Hillsboro turned the ball over five times in the second quarter so the Bulldogs played on an even keel with the Toppers; the 14 point first quarter lead was still an impressive 12 at half-time, but somehow it seemed not the runaway affair it had been. The game hit the runaway stage again in the third quarter, though, as Tuetken scored all of his 12 points and Matoush added 10 (he had his 22 points before the quick-clock fourth quarter began).

Hillsboro’s 31 point third quarter was the first time Hillsboro had scored more than 28 in a quarter this season; the magic 30 point lead (which triggers a running clock for the fourth quarter) was reached before the third quarter ended.

Once again the scoring was balanced; the rebounding effectively rugged (Matoush had 8, Ian Malloy 7, and Vogel 7 of the team’s 31); assists were plentiful (18, with Vogel having five, Blaze Helton four, and Matoush three; and the defense produced more steals (Vogel, Matoush, and Tuetken each had three of the team’s 12) than the team had turnovers.

Staunton was lead in scoring by Frank Goss with 13; he had 12 in the Dogs’ 63-38 loss in Hillsboro on February 12. Freshman Braden Buffington, who played in all eight quarters and scored 26 for the JV’s, had nine in his varsity appearance, while 6’6” Jacob Futrell added eight.

The Staunton junior varsity, who lost 44-42 in Hillsboro, revenged that defeat with a 51-50 victory in Staunton as Buffington drew a foul with 6.9 seconds left and made both free throws. He finished with 26 points; Bryce Connor’s 18 topped Hillsboro’s scoring list, while Malloy added 11, 9 in the third quarter after missing much of the first half because of foul trouble.

March 1 at Staunton

Hillsboro 20 11 31 10 72

Staunton 6 13 12 13 42

Hillsboro (72) - Gavin Matoush 22, Drake Vogel 14, Jace Tuetken 12, Will Christian 7, Bryce Connor 6, Ian Malloy 6, Blaze Helton 5. Totals: 28-53 8-15 72.

Staunton (42) - Frank Goss 13, Braden Buffington 9, Jacob Futrell 8, Caden Silvester 7, Brady Gillen 5, Sam Best 2.

Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 8 (Tuetken 3, Vogel 2, Connor 2, Christian 1); Staunton 3 (Silvester 1, Gillen 1, Goss 1).

Records: Hillsboro (10-0, 5-0); Staunton (1-12, 1-6).

Junior Varsity

Hillsboro JV 12 9 15 14 50

Staunton JV 13 11 15 12 51

Hillsboro JV (50) - Bryce Connor 18, Ian Malloy 11, Adrian Harston 9, Deklan Riggs 8, Dillon Devlin 2, Adison Pollard 2.

Staunton JV (51) - Braden Buffington 26, Zack Painter 10, Broc Best 9, Victor Buehler 3, Cole Sternickle 3.

Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 3 (Connor 3); Staunton 5 (Buffington 3, Best 1, Sternickle 1).

Records: Hillsboro JV (2-5); Staunton JV (2-5).

Hillsboro Clips Shorthanded Birds

When Piasa Southwestern’s varsity basketball team took the floor in Hillsboro Tuesday evening, 6’6” senior shooting guard Addis Moore, their leading scorer in 2021, was in street clothes because of an injury; with him, the Birds had three wins to their credit; without him, they started one senior, 6’1” Brady Salzman; three juniors, all under 6’; and a 6’ sophomore. The eye test said they wouldn’t be able to play with the taller, quicker, more confident Toppers, and although the visitors had good affect and a good game plan, Hillsboro won 60-36 despite scoring only one basket after the running clock rule went into effect a minute into the last quarter.

Eight of the visitors scored, but none reached double figures (Carson Cooley had nine) while the Toppers relied on ball movement, player movement, and good shot selection to methodically pull away. Gavin Matoush bulled his way to 12 points (all in the first three quarters) and 11 rebounds; Jace Tuetken had six of his 12 points in the first quarter (his three rebounds, three steals, and five assists made an impressive stats. line); Will Christian had 11 points and five assists; and Drake Vogel reached double figures for the 11th time in 11 games this season by firing in two long threes in the third quarter.

Matoush has the same distinction (double figures in each of the 11 games) while Tuetken has been in double figures nine times; that type of balance makes Hillsboro a hard team to defend. Against Piasa the Toppers combined for 27 field goals. Though each of the starters are capable of creating their own shots, they don’t often resort to that. Against Piasa the Toppers registered 19 assists (they’ve had 21 twice this year) as they utilize passing more than dribbling; few teams on any level do that. For the season, Tuetken has 43 assists, Blaze Helton 41, Vogel 36, and Christian 31.

Tuetken opened the scoring Tuesday night with an old-fashioned three (it was the only free throw Hillsboro would take during the game; Piasa was one for two); Helton added a basket before Hank Bouillon scored for the Birds. Christian then notched a three, so it was 8-2 at the first mask break, Piasa would never be that close again.

Late in the third quarter the Toppers were ahead 50-20, but then the visitors outscored Hillsboro 6-2 before that quarter ended. After Christian and Tuetken each scored to open the fourth quarter, the running clock began and both coaches substituted freely; each team has two more games this week.

The preliminary game was freshman/sophomore rather than junior varsity. Though the visitors weren’t particularly tall (sophomore David Watkins is 6’3”), they were quicker then their Topper counterparts, and that quickness resulted in a 48-17 win for them. Adrian Harston had 10 of the Topper points; two Birds, Rocky Darr and Colin Robinson, were in double figures with 12 each.

Hillsboro hosted Vandalia on Wednesday, March 3, and travel to Gillespie tomorrow, March 5; those results will be in Monday’s Journal-News. Monday, March 8, Pana comes to call, and that will conclude the season.

March 2 at Hillsboro

Southwestern 6 10 10 10 36

Hillsboro 20 14 20 6 60

Southwestern (36) - Carson Cooley 9. Charlie Darr 7, Hank Bouillon 6, Brady Salzman 5, Collin Robinson 3, David Watkins 2, Lane Gage 2, Quinten Strohbeck 2.

Hillsboro (60) - Gavin Matoush 12, Jace Tuetken 12, Blaze Helton 10, Drake Vogel 10, Will Christian 9, Ian Malloy 4, Bryce Connor 3. Totals: 27-43 1-1 60.

Three-point field goals: Southwestern 3 (Cooley 1, Salzman 1, Robinson 1); Hillsboro 5-8 (Vogel 2, Tuetken 1, Christian 1, Connor 1).

Records: Hillsboro (11-0, 6-0); Southwestern (3-8, 2-5).

Freshman/Sophomore

Southwestern 22 6 14 6 48

Hillsboro 4 3 7 3 17

Southwestern F/S (48) - Rocky Darr 12, Collin Robinson 8, David Watkins 7, Quinten Strohbeck 4, Parker LeMarr 3, Logan Keith 2. 

Hillsboro F/S (17) - Adrian Harston 10, Deklan Riggs 5, Dylan Lessman 2.

Record: Hillsboro F/S (0-2).

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