Basketball battles between two orange and black-clad teams (Hillsboro and Gillespie) tend to be memorable for their competitiveness; they met only once this season, in Gillespie Friday evening, March 5; and that game followed form.
Hillsboro had to win the varsity game in order to compete for the conference title (tonight, March 8, when they host Pana) and to remain unbeaten; Gillespie was defending their unique home court with its sidewalls. Once again, Hillsboro shot well as a team, with each of the five starters scoring at least eight points, to prevail 71-60, but the Miners didn’t let the Topper win come easily.
A Blaze Helton free throw gave Hillsboro a 1-0 advantage, but the Toppers trailed 7-5 before Miners Anthony Ribes and Tanner Whitfield grabbed offensive rebounds and scored. The Miners were up six and fired up. Drake Vogel and Jace Tuetken retaliated with a trey and a steal and layup, respectively, to dampen the Miner fire, but still they held a 13-11 lead when Gavin Matoush picked up two quick fouls (one at each end of the court) with 1:08 left in the first quarter. Matoush, who leads the Toppers in rebounding and is second in scoring average, had to sit for the next nine minutes. Bryce Connor’s three from the right wing just before the first buzzer put the Toppers ahead, though.
A Drake Vogel three and an Ian Malloy close-in basket ignited a 17 point Topper second quarter; a Malloy buzzer-beater gave the visitors an eight point advantage at the half; Tuetken had eight and Vogel six by the break, but Matoush hadn’t scored. On the Miners’ scoresheet Brock Fredericks had five, but he became the show for them in the second half when he lit it up from behind the arc. He had 17 of Gillespie’s 36 points over the last 16 minutes.
Vogel, using anticipation and quick hands on defense along with his spring used to collect eight rebounds and ten points on offense, blunted Fredericks’ efforts, though. Matoush had 13 second half points, and Tuetken added eight as Hillsboro matched the Miners basket by basket after the Toppers stretched the advantage to above ten.
This win, as most of them in the thus-far 13-0 season, can be attributed to great shooting (23-of-38 inside the arc, 5-of-14 beyond, with Vogel making four of five from deep, for a composite of 54%), effective passing (16 assists for 28 of the baskets), and good rebounding - Vogel had 8, Matoush 6, and Helton 5).
The junior varsity overcame a different type of adversity to win 43-42. Because Malloy (in the front court) and Connor (in the back court) are the primary varsity reserves, the two played only in the first half, which the Toppers lead 24-22 after jumping to an 18-4 first quarter advantage.
Connor had 11 of the Toppers 18, with Mitch Lowe (3), Adison Pollard, and Malloy scoring the other seven. Gillespie had 18 in their second quarter, with Lowe, Connor, and Malloy splitting the Toppers 6. Lowe scored 11 in the second half, including eighth of the Toppers nine in the fourth quarter as the Toppers hung in for their squad’s third win.
The preliminary game this evening, March 8, begins at 5:30 p.m. against Pana, also undefeated (7-0) in South Central Conference play.
March 5 at Gillespie
Hillsboro 15 17 22 17 71
Gillespie 14 10 17 19 60
Hillsboro (71) - Jace Tuetken 16, Drake Vogel 16, Gavin Matoush 13, Blaze Helton 9, Will Christian 8, Bryce Connor 5, Ian Malloy 4. Totals: 28-52 10-16 71.
Gillespie (60) - Brock Fredericks 22, Anthony Ribes 10, Kamryn Link 10, James Whitfield 8, Zane Cunningham 5, Jack Herrin 5.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 5 (Vogel 4, Connor 1); Gillespie 6 (Fredericks 4, Link 2).
Records: Hillsboro (13-0, 8-0); Gillespie (5-9, 3-5).
Hillsboro JV 18 6 10 9 43
Gillespie JV 4 18 11 9 42
Hillsboro JV (43) - Mitchell Lowe 16, Bryce Connor 13, Adrian Harston 6, Ian Malloy 4, Adison Pollard 2, Deklan Riggs 2.
Gillespie JV (42) - Oberkfell 13, Wargo 10, Hohensbehr 10, Baglin 4, Buhs 3, Laughlin 2.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 4 (Connor 3, Lowe 1); Gillespie 2 (Wargo 2).
Record: Hillsboro JV (3-6).
Hillsboro boys’ dreams of an undefeated season were in peril when the Vandalia Vandals came to call Wednesday, March 3, but a productive overtime period by guards Will Christian and Jace Tuetken saved the day as the Toppers prevailed 66-60 after regulation ended 54-54 when guard Mitch Casey drilled a long three in the closing seconds to forge the tie.
The Vandals’ defensive game plan seemed to be focused to prevent Topper senior Jace Tuetken from penetrating the paint. Every time Tuetken swept around a high screen to head for the bucket, four Vandals would be in his way; he spent much time picking himself off the floor but little time at the free throw line in what became a physical game. Topper big men Gavin Matoush, Blaze Helton, and Ian Malloy distributed to and received bruises from Vandals Carson Rout and Gaige Beall for the entire evening. It was the second meeting between the teams this season (Hillsboro won 72-60 in Vandalia on Feb. 5); in this case familiarity produced determination rather than contempt.
The Toppers didn’t shoot as well as they usually do, especially from behind the arc, where they made only three of 14 attempts, nor from the free throw line, where they were 11 of 19 (58%). Still, they won, though the Vandals made seven treys and five of six free throws (83%).
Offensively, the game started slowly, with neither team scoring before the first mask break with 4:29 to play in the first quarter. Hillsboro was ahead 13-12 by quarter’s end, but Tuetken had to leave the game for a while after hitting the floor midway of the quarter.
Rout, a slim 6’3” forward who worked effectively inside (and the only non-senior starting for the Vandals) scored eight of his game high 22 points in the second quarter as the lead switched to 26-25 in the visitors’ favor. A Vandal charged into Malloy as the half ended, but officials ruled the contact came after the buzzer so no foul was assessed.
Neither team could break away to a big advantage in the second half. A Helton basket had Hillsboro up 36-33 with 3:20 left in the third quarter, but Casey’s sharpshooting had Vandalia ahead 39-38 until Christian scored with 47 seconds left to give the Toppers a one point advantage entering the last quarter.
Rout scored in close before Gaige Beall, who would eventually foul out, dropped a trey - Vandalia was ahead 44-40 with 4:34 to go in the contest. Three minutes later a Helton rebound basket followed a fast break by Tuetken; a Matoush offensive rebound meant Hillsboro held a 54-51 lead.
The next 100 seconds saw more time-outs and turnovers than points; only 1:4 seconds remained in regulation when Casey made his tying trey from 15 feet behind the arc. To make matters worse from Hillsboro’s perspective, Drake Vogel, whose 16 points were high for his team, suffered a calf cramp late in regulation. He re-entered the fray, but his effectiveness was questionable.
No matter - Vandalia won the coin toss (a new wrinkle for overtime during the pandemic) and had the first possession. No matter again; Tuetken stole a pass (his sixth theft of the game); fellow guard Christian drilled a three, and the Vandals had to foul. In regulation, Hillsboro was four of nine from the line, but in the overtime, they were seven of ten to salt away win number 12.
The five starters were in double figures; Vogel had 16, Christian 13, Tuetken 11, and Helton and Matoush 10 each. Rout (22) and Casey (19) were the Vandals with 10 or more. Matoush topped all rebounders with 13.
The junior varsity game didn’t go well for the Toppers. The only juniors, Ian Malloy and Bryce Connor, played only in the first half because they are the first players off the bench in varsity games (Connor still had 13) as the Toppers lost 66-30.
March 3 at Hillsboro
Vandalia 11 15 13 15 6 60
Hillsboro 13 12 15 14 12 66
Vandalia (60) - Carson Ruot 22, Mitch Casey 19, Gaige Beall 7, Case Goldsmith 5, Matt Hagy 3, Cole Tarkington 2, Reid Well 2.
Hillsboro (66) - Drake Vogel 16, Will Christian 13, Jace Tuetken 11, Gavin Matoush 10, Blaze Helton 10, Ian Malloy 6. Totals: 26-66 11-19 66.
Three-point field goals: Vandalia 7 (Casey 5, Beall 1, Hagy 1); Hillsboro 3-14 (Vogel 2, Christian 1).
Records: Vandalia (5-10, 3-3); Hillsboro (12-0, 7-0).
Vandalia 18 22 24 2 66
Hillsboro 11 13 2 4 30
Vandalia JV (66) - Matt Hagy 15, Conner Ray 14, Reid Well 14, Chase Laack 13, Preston Nestrick 8, Cayden Hipsher 2.
Hillsboro JV (30) -- Bryce Connor 13, Ian Malloy 6, Dylan Lessman 4, Deklan Riggs 3, Adison Pollard 2, Adrian Harston 2.
Three-point field goals: Vandalia JV 5 (Laack 2, Well 2, Hagy 1); Hillsboro JV 4 (Connor 3, Riggs 1).
Record: Hillsboro JV (2-6).