MURFREESBORO — Hillsboro finished just two 3-pointers shy of setting a single-game state tournament record Wednesday, but was unable to get past third-ranked Memphis East, falling 70-61 in the Class AAA quarterfinals.
The Burros came out of the gate hot and finished with 14 made shots from beyond the arc, but were still no match for the Mustangs’ size and speed. Memphis East ran past Hillsboro in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Burros 22-12.
“They wore us down,” Hillsboro coach Rodney Thweatt said. “They’re a hard team to match in terms of bodies, that’s for sure, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder than I was of this group tonight.”
With East (30-2) boasting a lineup of seven players taller than 6-foot-4, Hillsboro (21-8) took to the 3-point line to try and counteract the Mustangs’ size.
“We knew matchup-wise they had us in size,” said Hillsboro senior Thomas Smith, who finished with a game-high 17 points and two made 3s. “So we went to the perimeter for 3s and we felt it. We just came out ready to shoot.”
The Burros held a 15-9 lead after the first quarter behind five 3s, punctuated by a deep shot from Kobe Reeves just in front of half court as time expired.
“It was just confidence,” Reeves said. “We’ve been practicing on that all week.”
Daylon Murphy’s second 3-pointer of the game made it a five-point Hillsboro lead in the second quarter after East had trimmed the lead to two, but the Mustangs outscored Hillsboro 21-15 in the quarter to tie things at 30 going into halftime.
Hillsboro hit five 3s in the third to regain a 49-48 lead heading into the final quarter, but Memphis East dominated the Burros in the final frame to eventually pull away.
“We wore down in the third quarter,” Thweatt said. “It took a lot of effort to deal with their depth and length and quickness. I thought a couple things go our way it’s a different game finishing up.”
The Burros finished the game shooting 56 percent (14-of-25) from 3-point range but were limited to just 4-of-18 from 2-point range. Hillsboro didn’t hit its first 2-point bucket until early in the third quarter. Hillsboro was 11-of-13 from the free-throw line.
“They stepped up to the occasion,” said Memphis East coach Robert Jackson, who is assisted by former NBA star Anfernee Hardaway. “They definitely stepped up and played out of their minds tonight.”
Hillsboro’s Collin Herron scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range
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