If any basketball fan feels that offense is more important than defense, he/she should have been in Greenville Wednesday night, Feb. 24, when the 6-1 Greenville Comets hosted the 7-0 Hillsboro squad. Both teams can score, but both also feature a half-court man-to-man defense which too often go unnoticed.
The Hiltoppers, with quick sophomore guard Will Christian clamped onto the Comets’ main threat, senior guard Fletcher Manhart, held the hosts to seven first quarter points. The Toppers, though, could muster only one basket, an interior goal by Gavin Matoush late in the quarter. For the first time this season, the score was 0-0 at the first mask break. The Comets had an incentive -- it was their Senior Night -- but a bigger factor may have been the absence of Comet guard Peyton McCullough, who scored 19 in the Toppers’ one-point win in Hillsboro on Feb. 10.
Momentum changed quickly in the second quarter; the one-for-ten field goal percentage for Hillsboro changed quickly as Jace Tuetken fired in a trey and added a free throw later, Blaze Helton scored underneath, and Drake Vogel bombed away from distance; it was 11-7, Hillsboro, and a Vogel steal and lay-up before the second quarter mask break made it 14-9. When it was 23-9, Manhart connected for his first trey (he was held to 5 first half points), and the Comets seemed re-energized; but before the half ended, Matoush made his first trey of the season to complete a 26 point quarter, producing a 28-12 half-time lead.
The second half became a series of alternate runs; Manhart had an effective 19 point second half. The Toppers, guilty of only three turnovers in the first half, had six in the third quarter, and fouls mounted as physical play became the rule. The lead shrank to nine with eight minutes to play as Jack Schaufelberger added six points to Manhart’s 8 to give the Comets hope.
Again the Toppers rose to the challenge. Matoush, Helton, Tuetken, and Ian Malloy rebounded ferociously at both ends of the court; Tuetken opened the fourth period with a trey. Malloy hit a 12-foot jumper, and Hillsboro was six-of-six from the free throw line. As the Comets pressed full court, the Toppers had another big offensive quarter with 24 points to defeat the Comets for the second time in 2021.
Despite the 10% first quarter, Hillsboro shot 49% from the field for the game. Three Toppers (Tuetken with 16, Vogel with 15, and Matoush with 14) were in double figures, and another pair who shared the post, Malloy and Helton, had six each, so the position can claim 12. Fourteen of the 22 made baskets were assisted; Matoush had 10 rebound and Helton 8 of the team’s 31. Vogel’s three steals were the best in that category.
The Comet gym, with only Comet fans (and one Topper parent there because he refereed the freshman game) was eerily quiet -- until Hillsboro’s celebration in the locker room began.
Greenville’s freshmen defense forced 35 turnovers in their 55-42 win over the Topper freshmen, who had three players (Deklan Riggs 14, Adrian Harston 13, and Dylan Lessman 13) in double figures.
Feb. 24 at Greenville
Hillsboro 2 26 9 24 61
Greenville 7 5 16 19 47
Hillsboro (61) - Jace Tuetken 16, Drake Vogel 15, Gavin Matoush 14, Blaze Helton 6, Ian Malloy 6, Will Christian 4. Totals: 22-45 11-15 61.
Greenville (47) - Fletcher Manhart 24, Jack Schaufelberger 6, Gabe Lager 5, Desmond Gardner 4, Jaxson Belts 3, Christian Bauer 3, Clayton Danneman 2.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 6 (Tuetken 3, Vogel 2, Matoush 1); Greenville 5 (Manhart 3, Belts 1, Bauer 1).
Records: Hillsboro (8-0, 3-0); Greenville (6-2, 2-1).
Hillsboro FR 6 6 18 12 42
Greenville FR 11 16 12 16 55
Hillsboro FR (42) - Deklan Riggs 14, Adrian Harston 13, Dylan lessman 12, Dillon Devlin 2, Mitchell Lowe 1.
Greenville FR (55) - Alstat 14, Gardner 10, Charleston 8, Grull 7, Compton 5, VanderHarr 3, Scott 2, Hibbs 2, Burlingame 1, Siebert 1.