Visiting Wonewoc–Center was content packing the lane with its 2–3 zone defense, daring Hillsboro to shoot.
The Tigers took full advantage making 9 of 16 3-pointers, including six in the first half, en route to a 54–34 victory over Wonewoc–Center Monday night.
Seniors Avery Rueckheim and Matt Stekel were honored before the game, but it was Hillsboro’s junior class that did most of the damage.
Juniors Joey Helgerson and Tyler Crandall each drained a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter as the Tigers built an early 16–10 lead. Classmate Ethan Thorson added a pair from long distance as Hillsboro pushed its lead to 16 by the half, 33–17.
Junior Max Stockwell scored 10 of his game-high 13 points in the second quarter. He also had eight rebounds and three assists.
Helgerson finished with 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting from behind the arc.
All 10 Tigers that played Monday scored at least two points.
Sawyer Hynek missed the game with a sprained ankle, but will hopefully return this week.
“Their plan was to pack it in and force us to shoot from the outside,” explained Hillsboro head coach Curt Hildreth. “We were able to make a few threes early and that spread them out.”
Rueckheim added six points and two rebounds, while Stekel finished with three points, five rebounds and two assists.
“It was a good night to celebrate Avery and Matt and what they have done for our program and the strides they have made as basketball players,” said Hildreth. “We are real happy for them.”
Hillsboro (16–5, 11–2 SBC) earned the number one seed in its regional and will host No. 8 seed Weston (5–16) next Tuesday to begin the WIAA Division 5 regional playoffs after closing out the regular season tonight at Royall (6–15, 4–9).
Wonewoc–Center (11–9, 7–6 SBC), the number two seed, is the only other team in the eight-team regional with a winning record, but Hildreth insists winning the regional crown will be no cake walk.
“We are happy to have the one seed, but I don’t think it means too much,” said Hildreth. “You still have to win three games to win the regional title no matter what, so we will have to play our best to come out of there.”
Awaiting the Tigers is a possible rematch with SBC champion Bangor (19–2), which is a one seed in its regional. The two teams could possibly meet in a sectional semifinal at La Crosse Central on March 12.
Hillsboro 67, Brookwood 32
Last Thursday all 10 Tigers scored and Hillsboro held Brookwood to less than 30 percent shooting in a 67–32 win over the Falcons.
Stockwell led the way with 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Helgerson made three 3-pointers and added 13 points.
The Royall Booster Club will have Papa Murphy’s pizzas, cheese bread and cookie dough available to buy Thursday night at the game in the concession stand.