Just two weeks ago Hillsboro fell to Cane Ridge for the second time this season.
But on Saturday night the Burros found a spark when it mattered most and knocked off the No. 1-seeded Ravens 58-32 to capture the District 12-AAA championship at Hunters Lane.
“I think we’ve grown up a lot,” Hillsboro coach Rodney Thweatt said. “We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’d like early, but we were able to execute and do some things I felt like we could have done in the first two games, but late in those games we kind of broke down and had some mental breakdowns and weren’t able to finish it, but tonight we were.”
When Darius Ferguson nailed a long-range 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter on a 5-0 run, the Burros never looked back.
Cane Ridge (23-3) was never able to find its rhythm with Hillsboro (17-7) grabbing all the loose balls and scoring second-chance points.
But Hillsboro knew it would have to crash the boards to get a win over a Top-10 team in the state.
“We were motivated,” said Hillsboro’s Thomas Smith, the All-Tournament MVP. “This wasn’t our first time. We knew to win this game we had to follow out the shots on each possession-by-possession with rebounding… that was our goals and we did what we were told to do.”
Cane Ridge came out in the second half trying to find a way to erase a 26-15 deficit. But, like the first half, the Ravens weren’t able to find their stroke. They didn’t make a bucket until 5:18 into the third quarter, scoring only six points.
Smith, a senior, scored 12 of his team’s 17 points in the third quarter. He finished the game with 20 points, including one 3-pointer, while Kobe Reeves tallied 12 behind him.
The struggles for Cane Ridge continued as Kyree Elder received a technical foul after he dunked and hung onto the rim. No one for the Ravens scored double digits or hit a 3-pointer. Brandon Dansoh led the team with nine points.
“We have some tough losses to them … real tough,” Thweatt said. “I was proud. The kids still believed in me and believed in what we were telling them, even though they had some tough losses. They stuck together and came out and got a win. We have to get back to work and get ready for the region.”
The region tournament begins Friday at Cane Ridge.