Jonah Hill thought he could help. It’s that simple.
When the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hillcrest senior approached Hornets coach John Schaefer back in late December about coming out for the team — he definitely filled an area of need.
“I was sitting there in the stands watching the games and there were a few games there that if (Hillcrest) had had a post player to bang around a little bit — that’s a 10-point swing,” said Hill, who initially opted not to play after accepting an NCAA Division-I football scholarship to Arkansas State.
For the first time since the behemoth’s return, his impact was clearly felt Friday night. And it was worth a lot more than 10 points.
Hill’s first half helped steady the ship and the Hornets exploded — there’s not a big enough word to describe it — in the second half for a 70-32 Ozark Conference home victory over the Vikings.
With Parkview post Nathan Reichert having his way with the smaller Hornets early, Hill came in to slow down the big man and added eight points of his own to help Hillcrest to a 23-21 halftime lead.
But it was after the break when things got a little crazy and a battle of two of the OC frontrunners went a little sideways.
Juwan Johnson sparked an energized Hillcrest team to a 28-3 edge in the third quarter and before the large crowd realized what happened, the game was in turbo clock mode.
“Kickapoo kicking our butt in my first year,” Schaefer said, responding to the last time he saw anything like that. “It’s like piranha….when that first bloodletting happens, they get energized and they start making shots and then everyone wants to take one.”
Johnson dominated the second half, scoring 23 of his 28 points, including seven in a row that really put the game out of reach midway through the third quarter.
On a night where you could have forgiven Parkview coach Bill Brown for not wanting to address the media, the successful coach classily spoke on the Vikings’ nightmare.
“I thought the way we played the first half was really good and we had things under control,” Brown said. “They started making shots and with that 3-point line, it can explode on you in a matter of seconds.”
Sophomore Brady Petry had a hand in the onslaught, scoring all 14 of his points in the second half and knocking down four 3-pointers. The Hornets made 10 treys on the night. Hillcrest improved to 14-5 overall and 3-0 in the OC.
“I was on the bench a lot of that time and I looked up and all of a sudden we were up 20,” Hill said. “The first half we were letting them do what they wanted to do. We came out in the second with a lot more energy.”
Erik Durham led Parkview with 12 points, but was flustered by a very good defensive scheme by the Hornets all night. Reichert had 10 points, but failed to score in the second half. Parkview fell to 16-5 and 3-2.
“It comes to a point, where as a coach, you want to see what kind of fight your team has,” Brown said. “I was looking for some fight, some determination, some spark from our players and we didn’t get that tonight.
“Getting beat by Hillcrest is not a bad thing, but the way we didn’t respond to it is probably the hardest thing.”