Hillsboro’s offense was like a cranky lawn mower’s internal combustion engine on a cold winter morning when the Toppers took the floor Tuesday evening, Feb. 11, in South Central Conference play in Staunton; the athletic Bulldogs’ half-court zone defense held the Toppers to 10 first half points to win 56-41.
As inefficient as the Toppers were over the first sixteen minutes (four Hillsboro time-outs had little effect), the Bulldog offense was hitting on all cylinders. 6’3” junior Frank Goss quickly scored four points; 6’5” (at least) Ethan Booth had nine in the first quarter, including a trey he shot from his right baseline after chasing down a long offensive rebound; and penetrating Brent Kinder made both lay-up attempts as the hosts jumped to first an 8-2 and then a 17-4, result decided, lead.
The onslought continued over the next eight minutes though, as Kinder (in the middle), Devin Ray, and Kyle McCalla set up the perimeters of their 3-2 zone defense. Quick to be mobile, they covered enough of the floor to hurry Hillsboro’s outside attack (the five treys Hillsboro made all came in the second half). When the Toppers passed or dribbled inside, Goss and/or Booth awaited their smaller counterparts. The lead was 33-6 (27 points) with 2:15 to play in the half before Nic Ondrey and Gavin Matoush scored Hillsboro’s first consecutive baskets. In country terms, it was an old-fashioned whippin’.
Given the ‘Dogs 25 point lead, one could anticipate a quick clock fourth quarter, but Hillsboro’s proved too resilient for that to happen. Whether the Topper man defense tightened or the Staunton offensive cooled off to a more normal level is debatable. If the second-half goal was to play the full sixteen minutes, the Toppers achieved that.
Jace Tuetken, scoreless in the first half, found more shooting room in the second to score 13 points, including a three in the third quarter and two more in the fourth. Ondrey also had two treys from his right corner as his 14 led the Toppers, and Matoush contributed his consistent 10, no small feat considering the size he faced near the basket. Drake Vogel’s four points completed the Toppers’ scoring; usually he’s among the Topper leaders.
Trailing by 25 when the second half began, the Toppers lost by a more respectable 15. A bit of encouragement could come from that as the turnaround came in a noisy Staunton gym against a team that starts four experienced seniors who at least mathematically still have a chance for the conference title; 14-11 overall, they are 4-2 in the South Central. The younger Toppers are 9-18, 2-4, as they head to Pana for more conference action on Friday, Feb. 14. The junior varsity begins at 6:00 p.m.
The Topper junior varsity also faced a size discrepancy in Staunton as the ‘Dogs started 6’6” Jacob Futtrell and had another Booth, 6’4” Andrew, come off the bench. However, 8 of the 11 Staunton were freshman, and Hillsboro led at every quarter break (by 3, 4, 9 and 15 respectively) enroute to their 54-39 win. Bryce Connor with 20 and Ian Malloy with 11 were in double figures; the other Topper scorers were Will Christian (8), Brady Meier (5), Ethan Blankenship (3), Zane Duff (3), Blaze Helton (2), and Ethan Lentz (2). Also playing were Adison Pollard and Tim Downen.
February 11 at Staunton
Hillsboro 4 6 11 20 41
Staunton 17 18 7 14 56
Hillsboro (41) - Nic Ondrey 14, Jace Tuetken 13, Gavin Matoush 10, Drake Vogel 4. Totals: 15-43 6-11 41.
Staunton (56) - Ethan Booth 17, Brent Kinder 17, Frank Goss 10, Devin Ray 9, Caden Silvester 3.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 5 (Tuetken 3, Ondrey 2); Staunton 4 (Ray 1, Booth 1, Goss 1, Silvester 1).
Records: Hillsboro (9-18, 2-4); Staunton (14-11, 4-2).