BANGOR — Bangor’s Canon O’Heron is literally and figuratively head and shoulders above the competition.
The 6-foot-6 senior has improved leaps and bounds from an impressive junior campaign in which he was named the Scenic Bluffs Player of the Year.
Friday night, O’Heron scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help the SBC-leading Cardinals hand coach Curt Hildreth’s Tigers their first loss of the young season.
“We were unable to keep them off of the offensive boards in the second half,” said Hildreth, who has led Hillsboro to a 4–1 start in his first season as a head coach. “O’Heron was very good all night. Our movement offensively was good in the first quarter, but stagnated as the game wore on. We need to regroup and learn from the loss.”
Hillsboro (4–1, 2–1 SBC) led 17–13 after one quarter of play, but went cold offensively in the second quarter, scoring just six points.
Meanwhile, O’Heron and the Cardinals (5–1, 3–0) outscored the Tigers 49–33 over the final three quarters.
O’Heron is averaging a conference-best 29.3 points per game through six contests, including back-to-back games of 38 points against Royall and Mondovi.
Hillsboro junior Max Stockwell scored 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in Friday’s loss at Bangor. Stockwell is currently second in the conference in scoring at 20.6 points per game.
Junior Tommy Crandall had 12 points and four rebounds.
Senior Avery Rueckheim added 10 points and five rebounds before fouling out.
Last Tuesday Hillsboro shrugged off a lackluster first half and rallied for a 48–39 victory over visiting Necedah.
The Tigers trailed 20–15 at the half and were down 29–17 with just three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But Hillsboro closed the quarter on a 12–0 run to tie the game at 29 all.
Junior Joey Helgerson gave Hillsboro its first lead of the second half with at 33–31 with a steal and breakaway layup with six minutes left in the game.
Necedah’s Jordan Murphy buried a three on the next trip as the Cardinals regained a one-point lead, but Crandall came up with a steal and a breakaway to put the Tigers up for good at 35–34.
Helgerson made a pair of free throws and Stockwell went 3-for-4 from the line in the final two minutes to preserve the victory.
“We forced a few turnovers that led to a few easy breakout baskets and in a blink of an eye we had it tied up,” said Hildreth. “The fourth quarter was a dogfight, but we ended up making enough plays to get out of there with a win.”
Stockwell finished the game with 22 points, 12 rebounds and two steals.
Helgerson had 10 points, three assists and two steals. Hunter Stanek had six points and three rebounds.
Murphy scored 16 to lead Necedah (3–1, 1–1).
“I thought we responded well,” said Hildreth. “We took a big shot early and another shot to start the third quarter. But we were able to settle down and find a way to grind out a win.”
Hillsboro traveled to Viroqua for a non-conference contest on Monday and Mauston on Tuesday. Both games were played after this week’s deadline.
The Tigers will return to action Jan. 5 at home against La Farge.