By Mark Mercer
BRYAN: February 25, 2014 – At tonight’s opening game of the Division 4 Boys Basketball Sectional, held at Bryan High School, it was a tale of two half’s. With the Hilltop Cadets seemingly in control at the 5:34 mark in the 3rd quarter, the Stryker Panthers came alive aided by Hilltop turnovers and the Panthers Dean Beamont’s 3 steals in a 30 second span. At the 1:47 mark, Stryker re-captured the lead and never looked back, running away to record a 70-55 victory and advance to Friday night action against # 1 seed Edgerton.
Opening the game, Hilltop came out fired up, grabbing an early 5-0 lead and outpacing the Panthers in the opening quarter 20-15. Hilltop’s Number 21, 6′ 0″ Freshman Tim Maneval lit up the scoreboard off the bench , hitting for 12 points early to pace the Cadets to a big 1st half. It was also a huge defensive effort by the Cadet’s Jalen Towers and Maneval, dominating the boards early and frustrating the Panthers on both ends of the court. The Cadets held Stryker’s big man, Parker Ruffer to 1 point in the opening half, but keeping the Panthers on pace was Sophomore Chad Ruffer, who hit for 12 in the 1st. Going into the locker room at the half, Hilltop held an 11 point lead, 37-26 and most importantly had the momentum swinging their way.
Opening the second half, once again Chad Ruffer made key shots and stood tall along the defensive front, and at the 5:34 point in the 3rd, the momentum began to swing the other way. Hilltop committed costly turnover’s that opened the door and allowed the Panthers to claw their way back, and at the 2:05 mark the game was tied. Powering the Panthers in the second half. both Chad and Parker Ruffer, along with Beamont, came alive and from that point in the game, the route was on for the Stryker Panthers.
In the game for the Panthers, Beamont led the way with 19, while Parker Ruffer added 17, along with Chad Ruffer’s 16. Also on the board for Stryker, Tanner Clingaman had a big game defensively while adding 8 points, and Junior Brennan Woolace hit for 6.
For the Cadets in the loss, coming off the bench to hit for 21, Maneval had a huge game and showed he will be a huge factor for the Cadets over the next three seasons. Jalen Towers contributed 8, and was a big factor defensively in the opening half, helping pace Hilltop to a big halftime lead. Freshman Quinn Smith scored 7, Kelby Grime hit 2 big 3’s for 6, while Senior Xaiver Lowery chipped in 3.
SCORING BY QUARTER:
Hilltop 20 17 15 3 – 55
Stryker 15 11 22 22 – 70
Mark Mercer can be reached at email@example.com