The Carlinville boys’ basketball team that Hillsboro defeated 60-46 the day after Christmas in the Cavies’ holiday tournament wasn’t the same team the Toppers faced on Friday, Feb. 7; but Hillsboro won anyway, 66-61, in Carlinville.
Cavalier point guard, senior Aiden Naugle, missed the first game because of a hand injury; Friday he was the starter, making only his second appearance of the season. 6’2” post player Ethan Trimm, a bruise-giving lineman on the football field, seems to have achieved a better basketball conditioning level in the intervening six weeks. In the first tussle, though he used his size well underneath on both ends of the court, his 11 points came in the first three quarters; Friday he saw more playing time, ran the court better, and had 8 of his team-high 18 points during the last eight minutes.
The Toppers aren’t quite the same as a starting unit either. Sophomore guard Dillon Smail has moved from sixth man to the starting five, making the Toppers smaller (Smail’s program height is 5’8”) and younger (three sophomores now start as he joins classmates Drake Vogel and Gavin Matoush). The move paid dividends Friday, though, as the Toppers seemed more fluent; Smail’s quickness, court sense, and defensive tenacity helped Hillsboro transition offense. His 13 points and three steals were also needed.
Drake Vogel collected 22 points to lead all scorers; Jace Tuetken added 10, Nic Ondrey 9, and Gavin Matoush 8 to produce the most-balanced scoring attack the Toppers have had. Matoush with nine, Vogel with eight, and Nic Ondrey with six led the rebounders despite Trimm’s presence.
That presence also caused foul problems for Hillsboro; Matoush fouled out (for only the third time this season), while Brock Bellaver (3), Ian Malloy (2), and Dylan McCammack (1) also picked up fouls while guarding the big man. Trimm’s forearm shivers makes him a dangerous defensive assignment; he can clear the space around him as effectively as anyone the Toppers have faced.
Despite their now 0-5 South Central Conference record, the Cavaliers were a formidable opponent. (Official scorer Tim Tarter said they were hoping to break a 15 game conference losing streak before action started.) Running the floor well, the Hiltoppers opened a 13-6 lead in the early going, but by the midway point of the second quarter Carlinville was ahead 28-26. Trimm, who had 10 points by halftime, made it 30-26 before Bellaver tied it by making four of four free throws.
The Cavies pulled ahead by four again, but a transition basketball by Ondrey at the buzzer established the halftime score. Smail’s two threes helped the Toppers stay within two in the third quarter before Vogel took over the last quarter, running the floor, creating turnovers, and shooting well to counter Trimm’s efforts. His 14 points, including his only trey of the game, provided the impetus for a small lead. When Tuetken converted two free throws with 1:43 to play; it was 62-59.
Vogel converted a Matoush pass into a lay-up to push the lead to 5. Briley Roper made two free throws as Matoush fouled out to make it a one possession game again before Ondrey sealed the win with free throws with 4.4 seconds to play. In the last quarter Tuetken and Ondrey were four of four from the line in the late going to compliment Vogel’s outburst of points.
The hosts did win the junior varsity game 57-47. Three of the nine Cavies who scored were in double figures, led by Damon Sharp with 15. Scoring for Hillsboro were Will Christian (14), Malloy (11), Bryce Connor (6), Brady Meier (6), Zane Duff (5), Blaze Helton (3), and Adison Pollard (2). Also seeing floor time were Ethan Lentz and Tim Downen.
February 7 at Carlinville
Hillsboro 15 17 16 18 66
Carlinville 14 20 12 15 61
Hillsboro (66) - Drake Vogel 22, Dillon Smail 13, Jace Tuetken 10, Nic Ondrey 9, Gavin Matoush 8, Brock Bellaver 4. Totals: 23-51 16-24 66.
Carlinville (61) - Ethan Trimm 18, Michael Byots 12, Briley Roper 11, Jack Kessinger 8, Carson Wiser 6, Aiden Naugle 4, Ethan Siglock 2.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 4 (Smail 3, Vogel 1); Carlinville 1 (Byots 1).
Records: Hillsboro (9-16, 2-3); Carlinville (9-15, 0-5).