Visiting Bangor outscored Hillsboro 13–2 in the final five minutes to hand Hillsboro its first loss of the season Friday night, 60–46.
The Tigers (5–1, 2–1 SBC) trailed by just three at 47–44 early in the fourth quarter.
But Hillsboro misfired on at the free throw line on three straight front-end bonus situations, and the Cardinals (4–2, 3–0) scored on all three possessions to build a 53–44 lead.
“If we convert on those free throws it is tight down the stretch,” said Hillsboro head coach John Koopman. “Another thing that hurt us was our foul trouble.”
Senior guard Brandon Stanek sat most of the second and then fouled out in the middle of the fourth quarter. Sophomore Max Stockwell and senior Matt Anderson also fouled out as Hillsboro committed 26 fouls and allowed Bangor to shoot 29 free thows. The Cardinals converted on just 14 to allow the Tigers to keep it close until the very end.
Sophomore Joey Helgerson scored a team-high 19 points, including a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line to keep Hillsboro in the game.
Unfortunately the rest of the Tigers shot just 6 of 14 from the charity stripe.
“We played extremely hard against a very big and talented team,” said Koopman. “Bottom line was we needed to rebound and shoot free throws better than we did. There are some things we could have done different offensively and defensively that could have helped, but that’s on me.
“After looking at the film, I’m very optimistic. If we played well and still got beat by 14 I would be worried. We did not execute well in any aspect of the game. We didn’t do what we wanted to do on defense and on offense we had way too many careless turnovers. If we clean these things up we should give them all they want next time.”
Canon O’Heron scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Bangor.
Stockwell had seven points and five rebounds before fouling out. Stanek added six points and two rebounds before he took a seat with his fifth foul.
Hillsboro returns tonight with a home game against SBC foe Cashton.
The Tigers will then have an eight-day break before competing in the Onalaska Luther holiday tournament.
Last Tuesday Helgerson hit four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 17 points to lead Hillsboro to a 66–42 victory at Necedah.
Stockwell added 14 points on 4 of 8 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and two assists.
Junior center Avery Rueckheim added 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and senior Spencer Bjornsen contributed a season-high nine points and six rebounds.