Hiltoppers Shoot Down Litchfield

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Though Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside are terms often used to describe runners in old school football games, they also describe the effective scorers Hillsboro has enjoyed in their first two games at the Rick McGraw Memorial Invitational Tournament held in Litchfield last Saturday and Monday. Against Taylorville Saturday Mr. Inside (the Lane) Nic Ondrey scored 24 points and Mr. Outside (the Arc) Drake Vogel scored 23; against the host Purple Panthers. Monday night, Jan. 20, Vogel had 25 and Ondrey 22. Monday Hillsboro avenged an earlier loss to Litchfield by outscoring them 82 to 74.

Vogel made seven three-point shots over the Panthers 2-3 zone in the first half (he had six treys in the Tornado loss), but a 25 point Litchfield second quarter pushed the Panthers to a six point halftime lead--they turned the ball over only five times in those 16 minutes while Hillsboro gave it up ten times, eight in the second quarter. The return to the floor from a season-threatening ankle injury by senior guard Brady Bishop not only gave them their leading scorer for the contest (with 18), but also meant the first man off the bench, Blake McGill, brought experience gained from starting their first 17 games with him; he added 11. Austin Niehaus, Anthony Boston, and John Corso were effective rebounders underneath, though Topper eighth man, sophomore Ian Malloy, came off the bench to add muscle underneath in the second quarter. Defensively he plugged the middle to stop what had been effective Panther penetration.

The defensive tone of the game changed in the second half as Jace Tuetken drew a charge from Bishop; each team collected only two fouls in the first half, with Hillsboro not having a foul on the books until 14 minutes had passed. Ondrey scored the first basket of the second half; Dylan McCammack pivoted underneath for a right-handed baby hook, and the Toppers were off on a 10-0 run that produced a 47-43 lead. The Panthers struck back, though; Boston collected an offensive rebound bucket to put his team ahead again, 46-45.

As Ondrey persisted in muscling his way to the basket, Litchfield defenders fouled and fouled. In the second half Ondrey made 12 of 17 free throws, three of four in the third quarter, but he also picked up his third personal near the end of that quarter. Balanced Litchfield production had them up by five with eight minutes to go.

The Topper parade to the free throw line (Tuetken was six of six, Gavin Matoush three of four, Vogel two of two, and McCammack one of two in addition to Ondrey's nine of thirteen) turned the game. Down six early in the fourth quarter, the Toppers were up ten, 75-65 before Bishop hit a late trey. That chapter of the Topper/Purple Panther drama was over--but only until Friday, Feb. 21, when the teams decide the season series in Hillsboro. Bracket play for the invitational tournament begins tonight, Thursday, Jan. 23, Greenville plays Gateway Legacy in the bigger gym (Simmons) at 6 p.m. while the Toppers face Bethalto Civic Memorial at 7:30. That's in the middle bracket for teams that were 1-1 in pool play. 

Litchfield next plays tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Panther Gym; action there begins at 6 p.m. when Mt. Zion faces Father McGivney. 

Nokomis is the local team in the championship bracket (for those who were 2-0 in pool play). The Redskins play Triad Friday at 6 p.m. in Simmons; South Central Conference team Pana will battle Taylorville at 7:30 p.m. to conclude Friday activities in Simmons. 

January 20 at Litchfield

Rick McGraw Memorial Invite

Hillsboro 21 16 14 31 82

Litchfield 18 25 13 18 74

Hillsboro (82) - Drake Vogel 25, Nic Ondrey 22, Jace Tuetken 12, Gavin Matoush 11, Dylan McCammack 7, Dillon Smail 3, Ian Malloy 2. Totals: 25 26-35 82.

Litchfield (74) - Brady Bishop 18, John Corso 15, Blain Stewart 12, Blake McGill 11, Anthony Boston 10, Austin Niehaus 8. Totals: 27 13-18 74.

Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 8 (Vogel 7, Smail 1); Litchfield 7 (Bishop 2, Stewart 2, McGill 1, Corso 1, Niehaus 1).

Records: Hillsboro (6-13), Litchfield (8-10)

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