Once again Hilldale played musical opponents Tuesday night thanks to COVID-19, and the Hornets put on perhaps their performance of the season as they demolished previously unbeaten Class B No. 5 Red Oak 64-30 at the Hilldale Event Center.
“We found out Monday that Locust Grove was quarantined and so I used OSSAA resources to find someone else looking for a game and Red Oak gave us a call,” said Hornets’ coach Scott Hensley.
The game started a little sluggish for both teams as the Hornets committed six turnovers but still managed to own a 10-7 lead after the first quarter. But then someone flipped on the energy switch for Hilldale and the Hornets roared out of the gate in the second quarter, playing high-energy defense, owning the boards and outscoring the Eagles 21-6 to lead at intermission 31-13.
“The kids came out really jacked up to start and worked really hard on defense and getting stops, but on offense we just kept throwing the ball away. So we just told them to settle down a little and we finally got into a little bit of a rhythm,” said Hensley.
Hilldale (3-3) shot 60% from the field (9-of-15) in the quarter led by Ty O’Neal and Evan Smith who combined for 12 of the Hornets 21 points while harassing Red Oak into six turnovers and just 15% from the field on 2-of-13.
“Our assistant coaches work so hard on defense in practice and I told them tonight wasn’t it nice to see that hard work start paying some dividends,” said Hensley.
O’Neal was the workhorse for the Hornets as he poured in 29 points including three 3s and a couple of thunder dunks while Evans had 14 points on the night with some nice penetrations around defenders for baskets. For the game, Hilldale maintained a 60% field-goal clip while Red Oak shot just 19% for the game (11-of-57).
The Eagles (10-1) had no one break the double-figure mark in scoring with Denver Hamilton’s nine points leading the way.
COVID-permitting, the Hornets are scheduled to travel to Okmulgee on Thursday and then host Catoosa on Friday.
Locust Grove 49, Hilldale 33
The Lady Hornets could just never get in synch against the 4A No. 12-ranked Lady Pirates. Locust Grove led from the outset as Hilldale trailed 13-5 after the first quarter and 27-13 at half time. Turnovers were a problem for the Lady Hornets who had 19 on the night. But 3-point shooting and free throws were probably the biggest differences. The Lady Pirates were 6-of-21 from beyond the arc while Hilldale hit just 2-of-13. From the charity line, Locust Grove was 16-of-20 while the Lady Hornets were 8-of-10.
“We struggled offensively. You’re not going to beat a good team like that when you shoot just 25-30 percent from the field (11-of-40). There were too many turnovers and we really didn’t get serious about rebounding until the fourth quarter when it was too late,” said Lady Hornets’ coach Clif Warford.
But Warford says there is a silver lining in the schedule Hilldale has played so far.
“I was figuring today and the average rank of the team we’ve played is number five in the state when you look at teams like Locust Grove, Fort Gibson, Coweta, Howe and Ada that we’ve played so far. So to come out of that competition and be 4-4 is okay at this point,” said Warford.
Madi Folsom was the leading scorer for the Lady Hornets with 11 points including a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line while Madison Smith, with four 3-pointers, led Locust Grove (8-2) with 14 points and Kaitlyn Spradlin added 10 for the Lady Pirates.