Patriots fight past Raiders in tough battleJanuary 19, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — Basketball fans were treated to something special last night as a pair of the area’s hottest teams went head-to-head at Memorial Gym for PAC dominance. The Southridge Raiders, who had won their six previous games, hosted the red-hot Heritage Hills Patriots who boasted a 10-game winning streak heading into the contest. Both teams delivered a tight, back and forth 32 minutes of action, but short spurts at key moments proved to be the difference as the Patriots defeated the Raiders 64-52 on Friday night.
Patriots (14-1, 5-0) coach Nate Hawkins was thrilled with how his players stepped up to the task of facing another squad that could match up with them physically and got the stops they needed in order to tip the balance in their favor and extend their win streak to 11 games.
“I thought our kids were tremendous today, just a little bit of everything,” he said. “Simon (Scherry) stepped up and got us going, Murray (Becher) getting to the rim off the bounce, Blake (Sisley) both inside and out tonight, we’re just getting better. For this game to play against a great Southridge team on their home floor, I felt like we closed it in the second quarter and then from that point we controlled the game. I’m just proud of our guys and the determination they played with tonight.”
Junior guard Simon Scherry got things started for the Pats with an early three-pointer, to which the Raiders (9-5, 3-1) responded with a dunk from senior center Jaden Hayes in the low block after an inside feed from sophomore guard Colson Montgomery. Scherry fired back another one from downtown and Montgomery demonstrated his range as his rose up and sank a three of his own in the Raiders’ next possession.
Both teams worked around the other’s defense to trade buckets each way down the floor. Scherry had 10 points while Montgomery and junior guard Garrett Voegerl combined for 12. Scherry and junior guard Murray Becher were able to work the full court press to produce some fast break scores toward the end of the quarter, but senior guard Joe LaGrange came up with a steal of his own in the waning seconds of the first. However, he wasn’t able to get his shot off before time expired and at the end of the first quarter both teams were tied at 16-all.
The second quarter played out like the first for the majority of its duration with both teams going shot for shot with each other. LaGrange opened the quarter with a drive inside, to which sophomore center Blake Sisley answered with a three-point play to give the Pats a slim 19-18 lead. LaGrange came back with his own and-1 play and Becher slashed inside for a floater to tie the game at 21-all. Hayes started to get loose inside and put up a quick five points on the Pats, but Becher was able to keep pace with the big man as the conference rivals fought to a 26-26 tie with a few minutes left to spare. But the momentum quickly shifted in the Pats’ favor when Becher and junior guard Cole Sigler were able to convert a couple of breakaway layups. Scherry then clocked in his third three-pointer of the night and just like that a 7-0 run allowed Heritage Hills to take a 33-26 lead and gain control of the game going into halftime.
Montgomery was able to hit the backdoor on a couple of Patriots defenders to get the first points of the third quarter. Becher answered back once again. Sisley stepped outside to land a three-pointer as La Grange and Hayes continued to work inside for their points. Hayes was able to get to the line and hit both of his free throws to close the gap to 41-37, but Sisley and Becher scored consecutive baskets to help the Patriots maintain their control of the game. Hayes was able to get a three-point play with about a minute left, but Becher was able to drive in and land another floater as time expired to give the Patriots a 47-40 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Heritage Hills finally pulled away in the fourth. Scherry connected on another sniper shot to put the Patriots up 10 points at the start. Voegerl found himself open for three in the next Raiders’ possession, but Sisley knocked down another triple at the other end to maintain the pace. What followed was an old school three-point play for Scherry and trips to the foul line for Sisley and Becher as the Patriots grew their lead. Montgomery had seven points in the final quarter, but Southridge was unable to wrestle control back from Heritage Hills, who outscored the Raiders 17-12 and held on to win 64-52.
Becher had 21, Sisley had 20, and Scherry finished with 19 in the Pats’ win. Montgomery led Southridge with 18, Hayes had 14, and LaGrange finished with 11.
“I think we played great,” said Becher. “We got on the offensive boards, we shot well, we just played together well as a team.”
“We were just tough,” added Sisley. “They let us play, we just had to fight through the contact. We were smart when we got the ball on offense and got good shots.”
Heritage Hills maintained their undefeated conference record with the win on Friday night, but Hawkins thinks the bigger takeaway for the players was the experience of finding a way to get it done against another team that could match up and score with them. The Raiders were able to give the Pats a good run for their money, and Hawkins believes games like these are what the team needs to prepare for the postseason.
“I think it’s one of those games that you had to earn,” he said. “We had to earn this one. We had to have great possessions. I think grinding things out, keeping the pressure up...all of those things are huge, especially in a game like this. Our kids learned they can go on the road, play a really good team, and find a way to win.”
Raiders coach Mark Rohrer was proud of the way his boys battled Heritage Hills all night, and thinks that the team can learn a lot about themselves from such a tough game against a quality opponent. Of course they will pour over the film as a group to fill in the necessary Xs and Os corrections, but he hopes the team remembers the feeling of playing in a game of that magnitude so they are better able to receive and handle a team like Heritage Hills that they will see down the line.
“I think the in-game experience with that type of crowd (and) athleticism, it’s hard to simulate that kind of speed, length and athleticism,” he said. We have to guard teams that have multiple scorers a little bit better whenever we see teams like that in the future. We’re going to learn from the feel of the game. I’m very excited about the opportunity to use this to get better.”
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