Friday’s Ozark Conference matchup between Hillcrest and Glendale was as close as a game could be through three quarters.
But in the fourth quarter, everything that had been working for Glendale ceased and everything for Hillcrest fell into place.
Trailing by one point midway through the fourth period, Hillcrest finished the game on a 16-1 run and ran away with a 71-57 win in a game that was much closer than the score appeared.
“Coaching this game was a nightmare,” Hillcrest coach John Schaefer said. “This was a defensive debacle and nobody guarded on either team I don’t think, but it doesn’t matter what the records are, in a city game it’s going to be like that.”
The game featured 11 ties and 19 lead changes, including three ties and four lead changes in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter alone.
Junior Cameron Maes’ 3 from the right baseline with 4:44 left in the game gave Glendale a 56-55 lead, but from that point the shooting for the Falcons went cold.
A conventional 3-point play by senior Roy Hardy put Hillcrest (6-3, 1-0) back in front 58-56 with 4:32 left.
Glendale (5-8, 0-2) would only make one free throw the rest of the way and made just 2 of 10 shots from the field in the final period, while in contrast, Hillcrest made 9 of 13 shots from the floor in the decisive final eight minutes.
“When Hillcrest got a five-point lead, they just spread it out and held on to it,” Glendale coach Sean Williamson said. “We couldn’t take it from them, so we had to extend our defense a little bit, which makes us vulnerable for them to go to the basket.
“Then we got into a deal where we got desperate to score and we took some bad shots which led to run outs and layups for them and that’s why the score ended up the way it did.”
Junior Juwan Johnson and Hardy scored seven points each in the fourth quarter. Johnson had five of Hillcrest’s final 10 points to seal the win.
“I’ve been really low on points this season and I’ve been going through a drought, but coach and I talked about it and I came out looking to score tonight,” Johnson said. “And I’ve got to do it the rest of the season.”
Johnson led Hillcrest with a game-high 19 points and senior Thomas Whitaker added 13 points and six rebounds.
Maes led Glendale with 17 points and had a game-high seven rebounds.
Both teams will be getting help from new additions in the coming week.
Hillcrest, who lacks a post player, will add 6-4 senior Jonah Hill to its rotation by the first round of the Tournament of Champions.
Hill has practiced three times and won’t be eligible until he’s participated in 14 practices.
“Adding Hill is a big thing for us,” Schaefer said. “It will be a big deal to get a post player back, because for us it’s a missing link.
“It’s not so important to have him back for the T of C, but it will be nice to have him at district time.”
Glendale will add sophomore Kayshaun Cortez, a 5-9 transfer from Quincy, Ill., by next Tuesday.
“He’s not the savior, but he’s going to take a lot of pressure off Garrett Skipworth and help us in that guard position,” Williamson said. “He’s a tough kid with a good basketball I.Q. and he’s going to fit right in.”