Sophomore Max Stockwell made a pair of free throws with 0.9 of a second left to lift the Hillsboro boys’ basketball team to a 40–38 victory over visiting Viroqua in the season opener for both teams last Tuesday.
Hillsboro rallied from a six-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to notch the win.
“This really was a big win for us for a couple of reasons,” said Hillsboro coach John Koopman, who is entering his 14th season as the Tigers’ head coach. “First, they beat us at home by 30 last year and returned their top scorer in Tyler Bentz. And secondly, we lost a number of close games last season because we couldn’t finish out the game. It was great to see the guys find a way to pull it out.”
A year ago, Viroqua blitzed Hillsboro 62–32 on Nov. 20.
This year it appeared the Blackhawks (1–0) were going to pull out a narrow win.
After scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter Virouqa led 38–32.
Hillsboro fought back on baskets by Stockwell and Matt Anderson, and eventually tied the game on a steal and lay-up by sophomore Joey Helgerson with just over 15 seconds left.
Viroqua called timeout at half-court with 13 seconds remaing.
Hillsboro trapped on the inbounds play and deflected a pass which was stolen by Stockwell.
Stockwell was fouled driving to the hoop seconds later to earn a trip to the line, where he calmly knocked down the game-winning free throws.
He finished with a game-high 17 points, five rebounds and a steal.
Helgerson added eight points, three rebounds and two assists.
“Max really played a good game offensively finishing with 17, but Brandon Stanek, although he didn’t score, rebounded very well and shut down their best player in the second half,” added Koopman.
Bentz scored 15 points in the first half to lead Viroqua, but with Stanek hounding him in the second half finished the game with just 17 points on 9 of 19 shooting.
“You could tell it was the first game for both teams because neither team shot well and had a lot unforced turnovers,” said Koopman. “We were 0-8 on three-pointer so we need to focus on improving that to become more balanced.”
Friday night Hillsboro looked more efficient on offense in a 59–50 non-conference victory at La Farge.
The Tigers (2–0) scored 15 points in the first quarter, 16 in the second and led 31–23 at the half.
Stockwell scored a team-high 18 points and six rebounds to off-set a game-high 25 from La Farge’s Tanner Heisel.
Stanek finished in double figures with 10, and fellow senior Matt Anderson added eight.
Junior Avery Rueckheim had six points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Senior Brock Borchardt, who started at guard as a sophomore, chipped in six after missing all of last season with a torn LCL in his left knee.
Hillsboro returns to action next Thursday at home in the Scenic Bluffs Conference opener against New Lisbon. After that, the Tigers will host Richland Center on Saturday, Dec. 7.