Bulldogs close strong, eliminate Patriots

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Heritage Hills' Murray Becher scores two of his team-high 22 points during Tuesday's Class 3A boys basketball sectional opener in Boonville. Evansville Bosse defeated Heritage Hills 66-62 as they closed the game out strong by grabbing several key rebounds on missed free throw attempts. For more photos from the game, click here.


BOONVILLE — The sectional opening game between Class 3A No. 4 Heritage Hills and Evansville Bosse was arguably one of the premier matchups across the state of Indiana on Tuesday evening.

With a packed crowd full of fans from both sides, thrilling plays from start to finish and impressive individual performances, the game didn’t disappoint.

However, this game will leave a disappointing taste in the mouths of the Patriots for a little while as they were defeated 66-62 by the Bulldogs.

Down by as many six points in the fourth quarter, Heritage Hills had several chances to take advantage of missed free throws down the final stretch. But second chance opportunities on offensive rebounds from the Bulldogs gave Bosse a second life and kept the Patriots at bay.

“You can’t allow them to get three offensive rebounds on free throws, you have to do everything you can to get that rebound,” Heritage Hills head coach Nate Hawkins said. “You give someone three chances at the line and sooner or later, they’re going to hit them. We knew that rebounding could be a factor because (Bosse) crashes the boards relentlessly.”

The game was a constant battle throughout all four quarters as neither team ever got up to a lead bigger than six points. Bosse struck first as they jumped out to a 6-0 advantage thanks to a three-pointer from Ty’Ran Funches and a dunk by Javen Layne on a fastbreak.

The Patriots went on a 5-0 run to tie things up later on courtesy of shots from Blake Sisley and Murray Becher. The Patriots took their first lead of the game at the 1:10 mark as Becher got a three-pointer to fall. The Pats led 15-14 at the end of one.

Bosse went on a 5-0 run early in the second quarter to take a 22-19 lead after buckets from Donovan McNeal and Kolten Sanford but the Patriots once again responded to close the gap to 25-22 at the halftime break.

“We knew they were going to come out fast,” said Heritage Hills junior guard Simon Scherry. “We just had to do what we could to control it for the most part.”

The intensity levels started to rise in the second half as each shot started to become more and more important. The Patriots and Bulldogs exchanged leads several times throughout the quarter as Becher continued to get shots to fall for the Patriots while McNeal, Funches and big man Kiyron Powell got things going for the Bulldogs.

Another player that started to catch fire big time for Bosse in the second half was Sanford. After he was held to just two points in the first half, he went off for 14 points in the final two quarters.

“When Sanford hit the first one, I was a little concerned because he’s a guy I’ve seen enough times to know that when he gets going it’s tough — no matter how tight Simon (Scherry) is guarding him,” Hawkins said. “Every time we made a big play, what did they do? They made a big play themselves. It was back-and-forth all the way until end.”

While the Patriots trailed 43-41 entering the fourth quarter, it was clear this game was anyone’s for the taking.

As Hawkins mentioned earlier, whenever the Patriots were able to make a big shot the Bulldogs seemed to answer almost immediately.

The Patriots implemented a strategy to intentionally foul Funches (a 55 percent shooter from the free-throw line) late in the game to try and take the lead. While Funches missed his first three attempts, the Bulldogs grabbed key offensive rebounds to maintain a possession and not allow Heritage Hills to take the lead.

Heritage Hills fans react to a call during Tuesday's Class 3A boys basketball sectional opener in Boonville. Fans from both Bosse and Heritage Hills packed Boonville's gymnasium on Tuesday evening for arguably one of the state's best opening night sectional matchups — it didn't disappoint. For more photos from the game, click here.

Big three-pointers late from Becher and Scherry made the game interesting but a pair of free throws from Sanford sealed the deal.

Murray Becher led the Patriots with 22 points while Simon Scherry added 19 and Dylan Begle finished with 10. Donovan McNeal and Kolten Sanford both finished with 16 for Bosse while Ty’Ran Funches added 15 and Kiyron Powell added eight points.

“This was a great basketball game between two really high-level basketball teams,” Hawkins said. “We’re disappointed with losing here in the sectional but at the same token, I’m very proud of this team and what they were able to accomplish.”

However, there’s no denying that this loss will sting for awhile.

“We’ll remember that we were 0-1 in the postseason — that’s what really matters,” said Scherry, reflecting on the season. “We’re going to have to come out all year and prepare for games like this.”

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