Toppers Dispatch Staunton To Improve To 4-0


All coaches of teams with winning records fear “trap” games in which they face teams who haven’t had much success in their current seasons; when the 0-3 Staunton Bulldogs came to 3-0 Hillsboro for boy’s basketball action Friday, Feb. 12, the stage was set, but evidently the trap wasn’t.

Hillsboro jumped to a 9-0 lead and expanded it to 17-2 over the first quarter of action as junior Gavin Matoush scored eight points of his team high 14. The eye-test showed the Toppers were quicker and more aggressive than their visiting counterparts; the game as it unfolded showed the Toppers would win easily if they had balanced scoring (Jace Tuetken with 13, Will Christian and Drake Vogel with 11 each, and Blaze Helton with 10 joined Matoush with double figures). Hillsboro shot 52 percent from inside the arc and 44 percent overall while defending without fouling.

One statistical category the visitors did win was point from the free throw line; the Toppers had zero (they missed one shot) while Staunton was one for two. Hillsboro was charged with one foul in each ball, Staunton with two.

By halftime, Hillsboro’s lead was 41-14 as Tuetken had a pair of treys while Helton had three lay-ups in the second quarter; the drama as the teams began the second half concerned how soon Hillsboro could reach the quick-clock mercy margin of 30 points. Christian had that answer with a trey just before the buzzer ending the third quarter.

Hillsboro Coach Joe Vanzo substituted as freely as he could in the fourth quarter, given the Topper squad has only three reserves on this season’s bench. With ‘Dog Frank Goss striking two of his four treys in the last, abbreviated quarter, the visitors outscored the Toppers 12-7. For the game Goss had 12 points when junior Cayden Sylvester added 11 to reach double figures.

Matoush had 11 rebounds to accomplish a double/double. Helton was close with eight rebounds while Vogel had six; his five assists were high for the game. As a team, Hillsboro had only 14 turnovers.

The junior varsity game wasn’t as crisply played as the varsity  contest, but the Toppers rallied from a 12-4 first quarter deficit to eke out a 44-42 overtime win. Ian Malloy had the only Topper points in the final period as he tallied 19 for the game. Bryce Connor had eight, all in the fourth quarter, while Adam Pollard’s two of two free throws tied the score at 38 to cause the overtime. Deklan Riggs' two of two free throws gave Hillsboro a 44-40 lead before a ‘Dog last second bucket ended the score.

Of the four games on the varsity schedule for the week, only one, for Wednesday, Feb. 17, is at home. The freshmen will play at 4:30, with the junior varsity and varsity games to follow. Piasa Southwestern is the opponent. They were scheduled to play at Pana Monday (it was cancelled), at Roxana Friday night, and at Nokomis Saturday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. That game will be varsity only.

February 12 at Hillsboro

Staunton 2 12 12 12 38

Hillsboro 17 24 15 7 63

Staunton (38) - Frank Goss 12, Cayden Sylvester 11, Adam Overyby 5, Jacob Futrell 4, Brody Gillen 2, Braden Buffington 2, Sam Best 2. 

Hillsboro (63) - Gavin Matoush 14, Jace Tuetken 13, Drake Vogel 11, Will Christian 11, Blaze Helton 10, Ian Malloy 2, Adison Pollard 2. Totals: 29-66 0-1 63.

Three-point field goals: Staunton 5 (Goss 4, Overby 1); Hillsboro 5 (Tuetken 3, Christian 1, Vogel 1).

Records: Staunton (0-3); Hillsboro (4-0).

Junior Varsity

Staunton 12 10 8 8 4 42

Hillsboro 4 9 10 15 6 44

Staunton JV (42) - Braden Buffington 13, Cole Sternickle 11, Luke DeWitt 7, Grant Neuhaus 4, Brady Gillen 3, Adam Overby 2, Zach Painter 2.

Hillsboro JV (44) - Ian Malloy 19, Bryce Connor 8, Deklan Riggs 7, Mitchell Lowe 6, Adison Pollard 2, Dillon Devlin 2.

Three-point field goals: Staunton JV 5 (Sternickle 3, Gillen 1, Buffington 1); Hillsboro JV 2 (Connor 1, Riggs 1).

Records: Hillsboro JV (1-2); Staunton JV (0-3).

Late Free Throw Lifts Hillsboro Past Comets

It isn’t possible for a basketball game to be any closer at the final buzzer than Hillsboro’s 51-50 victory over visiting Greenville was on Wednesday evening, Feb. 10; it isn’t probable that the winning point will come later in the game than the winning free throw the same evening.

The Comets claimed a 50-49 lead when their leading scorer of the evening, junior Peyton McCullough, made the first of two free throws with the 4.2 seconds on the clock. When his second attempt rolled off the left side of the rim, Topper Gavin Matoush grabbed the rebound. When Hillsboro called time out to get up their last possible attack, 3.6 seconds were left and the ball was to be inbounded in front of the Comet bench.

When play resumed, Matoush drove toward the basket on his left side. He was fouled as he shot; when he stepped to the line, needing one to tie and two for the lead, 1.1 seconds remained. The Topper junior, who hadn’t scored in the second half after notching four field goals in the first half, entered the contest having made 12 of 13 free throws in the first two Topper wins, but who hadn’t had a free throw in this one, calmly tied the game and then put his team ahead. When Greenville’s last ditch long heave pass was knocked to the floor, that second free throw became the winner.

Though Matoush had the game deciding point, he wasn’t the only Topper with an impressive statistic line. Drake Vogel had 16 points, three rebounds, two steals, an assist, a blocked shot, and only one turnover. Blaze Helton had 10 points and nine rebounds (Matoush had six rebounds to go with his 10 points); Jace Tuetken had eight points, three rebounds, and two steals and Will Christian contributed seven points, including an important trey in the third quarter when the Comets were threatening to pull away. He too had three assists. 

McCullough had 19 for the visitors. Guard Fletcher Manhart added 14 while 6’3” Clayton Dannaman had eight, but the other six Comets who played contributed only nine points.

Both teams played well defensively, a trademark of each program. Neither teams turned the ball over often (eight each). Hillsboro missed five three throws, Greenville four. The teams will meet again in Greenville for a conference game on Feb. 24. Previously, the Comets had defeated Roxana and Pana in non-conference play.

During preliminary action in Wednesday, the Comet freshmen defeated Hillsboro 54-30 and their junior varsity won 49-45 despite 23 points from Ian Malloy.

February 10 at Hillsboro

Greenville 18 11 13 8 50

Hillsboro 15 9 15 12 51

Greenville (50) - Peyton McCullough 19, Fletcher Manhart 14, Clayton Dannaman 8, Desmond Gardner 6, Jack Schaufelberger 3.

Hillsboro (51) - Drake Vogel 16, Gavin Matoush 10, Blaze Helton 10, Jace Tuetken 8, Will Christian 7. Totals: 18-42 12-17 51.

Three-point field goals: Greenville 5 (Manhart 2, Gardner 2, Schaufelberger 1); Hillsboro 3 (Vogel 2, Christian 1).

Records: Greenville (2-1); Hillsboro (3-0).

Junior Varsity

Greenville JV 9 8 21 11 49

Hillsboro JV 12 12 14 7 45

Hillsboro JV (35) - Ian Malloy 23, Deklan Riggs 8, Bryce Connor 7, Adison Pollard 4, Adrian harston 3.

Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 1 (Connor 1, Riggs 1).

Records: Hillsboro JV (0-2).


Greenville 10 16 23 5 54

Hillsboro 2 10 11 7 30

Hillsboro (30) - Landon Summers 8, Adrian Harston 7, Dylan Lessman 7, Deklan Riggs 5, Eliot Lentz 2, Payton Brown 1.

Three-point field goals: 3 (Summers 2, Riggs 1).

Records: Hillsboro FR (0-1).


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