VIROQUA — For two and a half quarters of last Monday’s non-conference boys’ basketball game, Hillsboro held the Viroqua standout Jeremy Lee scoreless.
And midway through the third quarter the visiting Tigers held a 20–12 lead.
But Lee got free on an inbounds play under the Viroqua basket and drilled an open 3-pointer to ignite a fire.
The 5-foot-10 senior guard hit seven straight 3-point attempts and scored all 17 of Viroqua’s points in the third quarter as the Blackhawks turned an eight-point deficit into a 10-point lead in what seemed like a blink of an eye.
Lee went 6-for-6, including 5-for-5 from behind the arc, in the final four minutes of the third quarter as Viroqua (2–5) took a 29–28 lead.
Lee stayed on fire to open the fourth quarter hitting back-to-back triples, and teammate Andrew Kleiber added a 3-point shot of his own as Viroqua amassed a 48–38 lead with 1:35 left in the game.
Lee finished the night with a game-high 31 points, all coming in the final 12 minutes.
“We knew we had to slow him down and we did a good job of that early on and held him scoreless for two and a half quarters,” said Hillsboro head coach Curt Hildreth. “But he hit one three and the flood gates opened for him.”
But Hillsboro kept fighting.
Tommy Crandall converted a three-point play, then after a Viroqua turnover Hunter Stanek converted a three-point play.
Max Stockwell scored and Stanek got back-to-back baskets as Hillsboro tied the game at 48–48 with 15 seconds left to play.
But Hillsboro, without any timeouts left, got caught in the press and committed a foul in the back court that sent Lee to the line.
Lee, who missed a pair just moments earlier to keep Hillsboro alive, made 1 of 2 to provide the final margin of victory.
Hillsboro had one final chance, but Stockwell’s last-second shot missed the mark.
“It was a tough loss,” said Hildreth. “All we can do is keep guarding the way we did and good things will happen for us. The game could have been put away early if we would have done better on the defensive boards in the first half.”
Hillsboro held Viroqua to just 12 first-half points, but six of those points came on offensive rebounds.
Stockwell finished the game with a team-high 21 points on 10 of 18 shooting and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds and had four steals.
Stanek added 11 points, nine rebounds and two steals.
Tommy Crandall had six points and five boards.
Mauston 54, Hillsboro 52
Last Tuesday’s non-conference game at undefeated Mauston came down to the wire just like Monday’s loss.
Mauston made 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute and survived a pair of last-second Hillsboro shots to escape with a 54–52 victory.
In a back-and-forth final quarter, Kyle Voss gave Mauston a 54–52 lead by making 1 of 2 from the free throw line with 20 seconds left.
Hillsboro called a timeout to set up a final shot.
“They played 1–3–1 the whole second half but switched to a 2–3, so we called timeout to set up a play,” explained Hildreth. “They came back out 1–3–1, but we were prepared. We got a good look, it just didn’t go in.”
Stockwell missed a drive to the basket, and Tommy Crandall’s desperation attempt at the buzzer was also off the mark.
“I was disappointed in the loss, but I thought we did some things very well against Mauston,” added Hildreth. “We did some things we can build on.”
Hillsboro played Tuesday’s game without junior Joey Helgerson, who is battling a knee injury.
Senior Avery Rueckheim stepped up in Helgerson’s absence scoring a season-high 12 points, including four in the fourth quarter, on 5 of 6 shooting and had three blocks before fouling out late in the game.
“Avery played his best game of the year,” said Hildreth. “He hit some mid-range jump shots and had a few blocks. I was excited to see him break out like that.”
Tyler Crandall scored a season-best 12 points and had six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Stockwell added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Hillsboro (4–3) will end its 13-day holiday break in the schedule when the Tigers host LaFarge on Monday.