Hillsboro pulled off the first upset of the Kaskaskian Classic basketball tournament on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 24, as the number seven seeded Toppers downed the second-seeded Freeburg Midgets 62-59 in opening round play. Much went well for Hillsboro as they held the lead for 30 of the 32 minutes; closing well, the Toppers led by six after Keaton Pruett made two free throws with 2.9 seconds to play.
The Toppers, who tallied only 37 points in a season-opening loss to Shelbyville last Tuesday, had 38 with 3:18 to play in the third quarter against the highly regarded Midgets. Nic Ondrey, who first set the tone with a basket plus a free throw in a quick move as the game began, maintained that energy as he scored 14 of Hillsboro's 18 first quarter points.
Freeburg's Luke Ervie, their ultimate leading scorer, had two problems in the first half; Pruett guarded him well, and he had early foul problems. After scoring only four in the first half, he recovered to score 18 in the second half, but one was an uncontested, meaningless three as the buzzer sounded.
Hillsboro led by five after one quarter, but trouble seemed looming as an 18-8 lead six minutes into the game became a 26-25 deficit as the second period progressed. Hillsboro's aggressive defense meant Freeburg was shooting one and ones before the first quarter ended; the Toppers committed 11 fouls in the first half. Only Ondrey (with two) and Jordan Gregg (with one) had field goals for the Toppers in the second quarter; Pruett (two) and Gavin Matoush (one) had free throws. Matoush, who replaced Gregg when he encountered foul trouble, led Hillsboro rebounders with seven. Hillsboro's advantage was 27-26 at halftime; Ervie was set to re-enter the game, and Freeburg fans behind the scorer's bench anticipated a quick change of fortune.
For a minute they were right; Ervie and Carson Smith quickly scored to give the Midgets the biggest lead they would enjoy at 30-27. A Gregg basket followed by an Ondrey put-back re-established the Toppers in front; then Landon Carroll stroked a three, Ondrey scored in a fast break, and Gregg completed an 11-0 Topper run with 3:15 left in the third quarter. The teams traded points till Pruett launched a successful three from the head of the key to put Hillsboro up 45-36 after three.
Perhaps desperate to avoid an upset, the Midgets rallied behind Carson Smith, who tallied interior baskets, and Ervie, who scored half his 22 points in the last quarter. The Toppers did bend; it was 45-44 before Pruett made the second of two free throws. Carroll added two freebies, and Pruett released early to score off a long Gregg pass; it was 50-44, underdogs up.
Carson Smith banked in a trey; Gregg answered with an offensive rebound while bodies were flying. The Midgets crawled to within two, 56-54, and fouled Gregg, who was still working on free throws. He made the first with 53 seconds left. The Midgets panicked a bit, throwing up a prayer that Gregg and crew (Jude Bertolino and Matoush) rebounded. Then Freeburg had to foul, and the Toppers persevered.
The Toppers return to Carlyle tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 27) for a 7:30 contest against Woodlawn, a storied small school program from Southern Illinois. The Cardinals are seeded third in the eight-team field, so Hillsboro will once again be the underdogs.
November 24 at Carlyle
Hillsboro 18 9 18 17 62
Freeburg 13 13 10 23 59
Hillsboro (62) - Nic Ondrey 26, Jordan Gregg 13, Keaton Pruett 12, Landon Carroll 7, Jace Tuetken 3, Gavin Matoush 1. Totals: 21-49 17-24 62.
Freeburg (59) - Luke Ervie 22, Connor Diecker 14, Carson Smith 12, Owen Smith 4, Colin Brueggemann 4, Griffin Range 2, Jacob Blomenkamp 1.
Three-point field goals: Hillsboro 3-9 (Ondrey 1, Pruett 1, Carroll 1); Freeburg 6 (Ervie 2, Diecker 2, O. Smith 1, C. Smith 1).
Records: Hillsboro (1-1); Freeburg (0-1).
Kaskaskian Classic Boys Basketball Tournament
Hosted by Carlyle High School
Pool A: Pinckneyville (1-0), Okawville (1-0), Greenville (0-1), Flora (0-1)
Pool B: Hillsboro (1-0), Woodlawn (1-0), Freeburg (0-1), Carlyle (0-1)
Saturday, November 24
• Pinckneyville 81, Flora 31
• Hillsboro 62, Freeburg 59
• Woodlawn 54, Carlyle 40
• Okawville 58, Greenville 45
Monday, November 26
6 p.m. - Greenville vs. Pinckneyville
7:30 p.m. - Carlyle vs. Freeburg
Tuesday, November 27
6 p.m. - Flora vs. Okawville
7:30 p.m. - Hillsboro vs. Woodlawn
Wednesday, November 28
6 p.m. - Pinckneyville vs. Okawville
7:30 p.m. - Freeburg vs. Woodlawn
Friday, November 30
6 p.m. - Greenville vs. Flora
7:30 p.m. - Carlyle vs. Hillsboro
Saturday, December 1
3 p.m. - Pool A #4 vs. Pool B #4
4:30 p.m. - Pool A #3 vs. Pool B #3
6 p.m. - Pool A #2 vs. Pool B #2
7:30 p.m. - Pool A #1 vs. Pool B #1
Shelbyville Too Tough For Toppers In Debut
Experience in athletes can be costly to obtain, especially when even the seniors who did play last season have new players next to them as this year begins; that's an old maxim that Hillsboro's varsity proved when Shelbyville pulled away to a 67-37 victory in the Hillsboro gym Tuesday evening, Nov. 20. The Topper junior varsity, however, prevailed in a see-saw game (55-47) over their Rams counterparts.
A look at the statistical summary chart helps explain the size of the defeat. Hillsboro shot poorly though often -- 13 of 41 from inside the arc (31%), two of 14 from behind the arc (14%), an overall percentage of 27%. From the free throw line the Toppers were five of sixteen (31%); the Rams made seventeen two-pointers, ten three-pointers, and three of six free throws.
In addition, Hillsboro was credited with only four assists but was charged with 17 turnovers; the Rams turned it over just six times. Senior guard Malcolm Miller led all scorers with 21 points, and he had support; sophomore Kade Kull had eighteen, sophomore guard Braden Nichols had thirteen, and freshman Mason Miller (Malcolm's brother) was also in double figures with eleven.
Jordan Gregg led Hillsboro scoring with eight, all in the second half. His nine rebounds were tops in that category; Jude Bertolino came off the bench to grab eight caroms, and Nic Ondrey had five. Ondrey and freshman reserve Gavin Matoush had the only two blocked shots in the game; which saw Matoush, Drake Vogel, Aiden Scroggins, and Dillon Smail make their varsity debuts as freshmen.
The game went well for the first four minutes as the Toppers held a 10-4 lead. Keaton Pruett collected the Toppers' only treys to force a Ram timeout. After that, however, the Rams began a 22-8 run that had them comfortably ahead by halftime. Miller (the 6'4" Malcolm variety) was held to seven points in the first half; Pruett drew that defensive assignment. He waited till the fourth quarter to display his long range shooting capability when he collected ten of his points. As a good team will, Shelbyville took advantage of Hillsboro's lack of offensive confidence to win easily.
The junior varsity game followed a different pattern. Thirteen Toppers dressed; nine played in the first half. The Toppers jumped ahead as Brock Bellaver (8) and Matoush (6) led Hillsboro to an early lead; then the offense hit a speed bump, scoring only three points while the visitors grabbed a seven point lead.
After three quarters the Rams were behind again, 41-39, as Matoush scored 17 of his game high 23 points in the second half; Shelbyville again went ahead in the fourth quarter, but when the Toppers stepped up their defensive pressure, the Rams lost their composure and the game by eight points. Bellaver joined Matoush in double figures with 13 points; Hunter Reed had 20 for the Rams.
Hillsboro plays Woodlawn at 7:30 on Tuesday, Nov. 27.
November 20 at Hillsboro
Shelbyville 11 15 17 24 67
Hillsboro 10 8 6 13 37
Shelbyville (67) - Malcolm Miller 21, Kade Kull 18, Braden Nichols 13, Mason Miller 11, Colten Reed 5, Payton Bryant 2.
Hillsboro (37) - Jordan Gregg 8, Jude Bertolino 6, Keaton Pruett 6, Nic Ondrey 6, Gavin Matoush 4, Jace Tuetken 3, Landon Carroll 2, Drake Vogel 2. Totals: 15-55 5-16 37.
Three-point field goals: Shelbyville 10 (Nichols 3, Kull 3, Mal. Miller 2, Mas. Miller 1, Reed 1); Hillsboro 2-14 (Pruett 2).
Records: Hillsboro (0-1); Shelbyville (1-0).