Pats battle, fall to Silver CreekMarch 13, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
WASHINGTON — When Indiana high school basketball teams get together for postseason action in March, it is not unusual for contests to go down to the wire. This is nothing new.
Heritage Hills (19-4) and Silver Creek autographed another chapter in the state’s storied postseason history on Saturday morning. The Patriots fought back in the second half, but ultimately dropped the 52-48 decision in 3A Regional 8 action at the Hatchet House.
“In order to win a regional, sometimes you’ve got to have a bounce here or a bounce there.” Heritage Hills head coach Hawkins said. “We missed more free throws than we’re usually used to at that point. But, you know what the other thing is? The fight and determination our kids showed today. That is a really, really good basketball team there.”
Although both teams needed time to gain a feel for the game, the jubilant Heritage Hills student section rose up after Pats junior JT Smallwood connected on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from beyond the halfcourt line. It was a fitting end to the first quarter — Smallwood showed a knack for hitting clutch shots in the regular season.
Heritage Hills seniors Jake Johnson and Blake Sisley established their respective grooves early on. Sisley fought through several double-teams and traps, mostly led by Silver Creek senior Trey Kaufman-Renn.
“Silver Creek presented a tough matchup for us,” Hawkins said. “They’ll present a tough matchup for a lot of teams. That’s why they’ve been what they have been.”
The squads engaged in back-and-forth action throughout the first half. The Dragons held a slim 29-26 lead at the intermission, but Silver Creek rattled off a slew of unanswered points to begin the third frame. Pats senior Logan Krzykowski answered the bell with a deep triple.
“They made a little bit of a run,” Hawkins said about the Dragons. “Our kids responded. Logan hit a big shot, and I thought our kids had to make some plays. They did. Ultimately, all the way until the final horn, we were right there with an opportunity.”
When the fourth quarter arrived, Johnson continued his stellar play. His two free throws trimmed the Pats’ deficit to 48-46.
“Here’s another kid who never comes out for us,” Hawkins said. “He played 32 minutes.”
Heritage Hills kept Silver Creek’s high-octane offense in check for key stretches, but the Dragons eked out their most critical points in the waning moments.
Sisley and Kaufman-Renn exchanged an embrace after the final buzzer. Kaufman-Renn led all scorers with 21 points, while Sisley contributed 18 points for a Pats single-season record of 498 points. Johnson led Heritage Hills with a career-high 19 points.
“The toughest thing is letting those guys in there go,” Hawkins said. “We’ve built such a family atmosphere. We enjoy being with each other in whatever we’re doing — going out to eat or some of the other functions outside of basketball. Having to let those seniors go is really, really tough. What can I say about how instrumental they’ve been in getting this program in the position that we’re in right now?”
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