(PICTURED) THE X-FACTOR … Xavier Lowery of Hilltop goes up for two against Delta
By: Timothy Kays – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
WEST UNITY … Those that appreciate fast-paced, high-scoring high school hoops got their money’s worth and more at the Hilltop Holiday Classic second semifinal game on December 28. The host Hilltop Cadets welcomed in the Delta Panthers for the right to advance to the championship round on December 29. Along with aggressive speed, Delta brought a significant size advantage to the game.
The big man on the Cadet card, Xavier Lowery, came in a 6′ 1″. Delta countered with six men as tall, or taller. The combination of the superior height and a fast, aggressive defense, created turnovers galore in the early going. As quick as the turnovers were registered, the Panthers were just as quick in converting them into points. With unforced turnovers becoming Delta points at an alarming pace, the Cadets fell behind by double digits in less than three minutes. By the time that the hometown boys strapped on their wings for some high speed flying of their own, they were down by thirty…but they refused to back down. The game then became a track meet where the nets were smoldering. The Cadets enjoyed their highest scoring output in a long time, but they were never able to atone for the error-prone early going as they lost a blinder of a shootout, 108-70.
Delta opened fast with a trey and a deuce to take a 5-0 lead before thirty seconds had ticked off the clock. Kelby Grime buried a trey to put Hilltop on the board, but the Panthers’ defense kicked in with a full court press that kept Hilltop from even getting the ball inbounds, let alone into the Delta side of the court. The first period ended with the Panthers up 37-8.
The second period began the same as the first had ended, and soon Delta had gone over the thirty-point mark in expanding their lead. Midway through the period, Hilltop freshman Quinn Smith ramped up his vocal leadership and his speed. The Cadets answered fire with fire, and despite nearly impossible odds, took the Panthers’ speed game and made it their own. Delta posted 28 points in the period, but Hilltop answered with 27. The gauntlet was finally picked up by the Cadets, and they proved to everyone in The Bunker that they could run and score with anybody, even teams that are significantly bigger than them. Unfortunately for the hometown boys, they wasted ten minutes in turnover city before they popped the clutch on overdrive. Those ten minutes, and the 24 total turnovers, cost them the game.
Smith finished with a team high 21 points, along with 7 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals. Tim Maneval hammered down 5 trifectas on the way to 19 points, 4 dimes and 3 steals. Miklo Abner canned 9 points, Jalen Towers had 8, and Xavier Lowery added 5 points. Ryan Brooker posted 4 points, Grime finished with 3, and Nic Scheiber added a free throw.
The Cadets will take on Montpelier in the third place game on December 29 at 6:00.
SCORING BY QUARTER:
Delta 37 28 22 21 – 108
Hilltop 8 27 15 20 – 70
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org