Balanced effort carries Pats to 56-38 winNovember 28, 2020
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
LINCOLN CITY — Although modern basketball continues to evolve, one constant remains prevalent. Floor spacing rules the roost, and Heritage Hills head coach Nate Hawkins recognizes its importance.
Hawkins applied that knowledge and guided the Patriots (1-0) to a 56-38 win in their season opener against North Harrison on Saturday evening. As the Cougars tried to combat University of Evansville signee Blake Sisley, Hawkins encouraged the senior to attack from different angles.
“We put him in some good spots tonight,” Hawkins said. “I think he learned a lot along the way, too. There were several times where he was picking and popping when they would switch. I was like, ‘No, Blake. Now, you’ve got a guard on you. You’ve got to go to the rim.’”
The Pats spread out their offense and forced the Cougars to adjust. When North Harrison gained possession of the ball, Heritage Hills’ tight defense limited transition opportunities. Because the Cougars needed to create offense out of halfcourt sets, the Pats capitalized on their chances to crash the glass and push the tempo.
“We’ve built our defense on some toughness,” Hawkins said. “We want to be physical. We want to rebound. We want to do those things. That’s about as big a team as we’ll see on our schedule, really.”
Heritage Hills senior Logan Krzykowski poured in a team-high 16 points. Sisley added 14 points, while fellow senior Jake Johnson and junior Alex Schaeffer chipped in with nine points apiece.
North Harrison junior Logan McIntire scored a game-high 19 points, but no other Cougars joined him in double figures.
“I felt like our kids were very locked in,” Hawkins said. “When you started this season, you knew it was going to be a little bit different. We’ve done some things a lot differently than what we’ve done years past. Maybe it took us about a week to realize, ‘Hey, we’re going to play.’ Now that we’re playing, I think those guys were just excited to be able to get out here and compete. Their focus and concentration have been great. It’s gotten better, and that’s what you expect. We’ve got a very senior-laden bunch this year.”
Before the game began, Hawkins presented Sisley with a commemorative basketball for his historic milestone — 1,000 points scored. Sisley reached the mark late in the 2019-20 regular season.
When Hawkins provided the assist, he exhaled and grinned.
“I kept looking at it for a long, long time,” Hawkins said with a chuckle. “I was just glad we got to this point tonight in this game to be able to present him with that basketball. He obviously has worked really, really hard on crafting his game and being the great basketball player that he is. He deserves that recognition. I was glad to give him that.”
Heritage Hills will return at 1:30 p.m on Dec. 5 to host Evansville Memorial. Last season, the Pats captured a 79-53 win over the Tigers in a 3A sectional championship game.
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