ONTARIO — The Hillsboro boys’ continued playing winning basketball last week.
The Tigers scored a 44–35 Scenic Bluffs victory at Brookwood on Thursday night, then followed that up with a 43–41 non-conference victory Friday night over a very strong Westby squad.
Coach John Koopman’s Tigers have now won four straight games and six out of seven to run their record to 15–4 overall and 9–3 in the SBC.
Sophomore Max Stockwell led the way in Thursday’s win at Brookwood with 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Seniors Brandon Stanek had 12 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists and fellow senior Matt Anderson added 10 points and five rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
“It was a game where I thought defensively we played pretty poorly until the end of the game when I stepped back and thought about it,” said Koopman. “We could never seem to pull away and they seemed to be hitting big shots to keep them in it.
“After the game I thought about it and we played very well only allowing 35 points, but we just didn’t play well offensively in order to pull away.
No player for Brookwood was in double-figures.
“It was just one of those game that was kind of sloppy and you are just happy to win and move on. It is always tough having to play the same team twice in such a short time period.”
Hillsboro also defeated Brookwood 62–41 on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Friday night the Tigers used a 2–3 zone defense to hold Westby to just 41 points on 12 of 43 shooting (27.9 percent).
“The guys played very hard and very well defensively,” said Koopman. “To hold a good shooting team like Westby to 41 points is quite an accomplishment.”
Hillsboro only trailed for a short period in the first half and every time Westby made a run the Tigers answered.
Hillsboro led by as much as 13 in the second half but Westby got hot from the 3-pointt line and climbed back in.
The Norsemen (15–5) connected on just 6 of 26 from beyond the arc for the game, but had four of those makes in the final 16 minutes.
“We kept our composure, made enough free throws, and executed just well enough to get a huge win,” said Koopman.
Hillsboro made 13 of 21 from the line for the game.
Stockwell led the Tigers’ balanced attack with 13 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Fellow sophomore Joey Helgerson chipped in 11 on 4 of 6 shooting, and seniors Matt Anderson and Grant Jefferies each added seven big points each.
“Brandon (Stanek) had a game you just have to appreciate as a basketball coach,” added Koopman. “He only had three points, all from the free line in the fourth quarter, but without him we most likely get beat fairly easily. He really controlled the ball against heavy pressure, played great defense, and rebounded well. It just goes to show you that stats don’t tell the whole story.
“Also, Avery Rueckheim only had two points, but had 10 rebounds, including nine huge defensive rebounds, most of which were late in the fourth quarter when we really needed them.”
Koopman acknowledge the enjoyment of the total team victory.
“This was really as fun of game as I can remember being a part of,” said the coach. “All they guys were into the game from start to finish. No one lost focus, got upset, hung their head, and the energy from the guys on the bench was awesome. The guys should be proud of themselves.”