ELROY — Expectations for the Hillsboro boys basketball team are sky high this winter, and justifiably so.
With seven of its their top eight scorers returning from last year’s team that went 23–6 an advanced to the WIAA Division 5 state championship game, the Tigers and second-year head coach Curt Hildreth are poised for another successful season.
Hillsboro finally opened the season last Friday with a dominating 78–57 victory at Scenic Bluffs Conference foe Royall.
The Tigers jumped out to a 38–18 first-half lead with the new 18-minute halves set up and were never really challenged the rest of the way.
“We started the game out on a 7–0 run,” said Hildreth. “Our players were really focused and executed well against the half-court man defense. We took advantage of our size down low and hit the open man out of the double team. Defensively we were pretty good for the most part sticking to the scouting report.”
Senior forward Max Stockwell (6’5”), a WBCA Division 5 all-state pick a year ago and three-time first-team All-SBC selection, scored a game-high 22 points on 10 of 14 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds to complete the double–double. He also passed out a team-best seven assists.
Senior forwards Hunter Stanek (6’3”) and Sawyer Hynek (6’4”) also dominated in the paint scoring 11 points each on a combined 9 of 12 shooting.
Senior point guard Joe Helgerson, a four-year varsity player and 2015 first-team all-conference performer, hit a pair of three pointers to finish with 11 points and also gabbed five boards.
Hillsboro never trailed in the game.
Hillsboro 76, Richland Center 64 (NC)
Saturday, the Tigers traveled to Wisconsin Dells where they defeated Richland Center 76–64 in a non-conference game at Just A Game Fieldhouse.
Again, Hillsboro built a huge first-half lead and never looked back. The Tigers led 43–20 at the half and never trailed.
“Against Richland Center we were able to get out to a pretty big lead in the first half,” added Hildreth. “We shot the ball well and limited them offensively. In the second half we looked like we lost our legs a little bit and were pretty flat. Richland Center did a nice job of working the ball inside out and hitting the open man. They shot the ball very well in the second half and were able to climb within the 12 late in the second half.”
Devon Schmitz scored a team-high 23 points to lead the winless Hornets (0–4) in defeat.
Stockwell led the Tigers with 25 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Stanek finished with 12 points and four rebounds, while Helgerson and brothers Tyler and Tommy Crandall scored nine points apiece for the winners.
Helgerson also had eight rebounds and six assists.
Senior guard Ethan Thorson chipped in seven points and three assists.
Hillsboro 68, La Farge 35 (NC)
Monday night, the Tigers improved to 3–0 on the season with an easy 68–35 non-conference win at La Farge (2–3).
Stanek scored a season-high 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Stockwell again led the team with 23 points and eight boards.
Helgerson also reached double figures with 10 points and had four of the Tigers’ 15 steals.
Hillsboro will host Wonewoc–Center (4–1, 1–0 SBC) Thursday night and Kickapoo on Tuesday.
BRIEFLY: The Hillsboro and Wonewoc-Center FBLA programs are staging the Pack the Gym Night fundraiser for cystic fibrosis Dec. 17 during the Tigers’ game against the Wolves. There will be a silent auction, Minute to Beat, half court shot contest, raffle tickets for a tie-blanket, and a bake sale.