Unselfish team play has Patriots rolling




LYNNVILLE — There wasn’t a lot to hate on as the Heritage Hills boys basketball team defeated the Tecumseh Braves 83-47 on Saturday night. Not only did the Patriots (12-1, 3-0) win their ninth straight game and remain undefeated in conference play, but they also kept up their blistering offensive pace as they've scored over 50 points for the ninth time in as many games.

They haven’t lacked much on the defensive end of the floor either as the Braves (8-7, 1-4) became the ninth opponent that the Pats have held under 50 points this season.

But Heritage Hills coach Nate Hawkins still would have liked to tweak the script a little bit during the game. The Patriots made eight three-pointers as a team during the game, scoring five of them in the first quarter which caused them to become somewhat more perimeter oriented than normal in the first half.

While it’s always encouraging to see your team landing shots from the outside, Hawkins would still like to see the team work the ball and their offense through sophomore big man Blake Sisley, who has the size and skills to create matchup nightmares across the floor.

“We want to play through Blake, he’s one of the most skilled big men around this area,” he said. “We went into him early and they were sending two guys (at him). I didn’t think we did a really good job of cutting without the basketball. We tried to make that an emphasis in the second half. Once we started playing through him we had guys cutting, and I thought that was an improvement we had to make.”

Junior guard Simon Scherry was the first one to start emptying the clip with five quick points that led to an 11-2 start for the Patriots. Tecumseh senior forwards Woody Brucken and Logan Arnold combined for nine points to try and return the early volley, but the Patriots’ full court press was stifling. Meanwhile, Scherry remained hot early, connecting on a trinity of threes for an early 15 points. Sisley and junior guard Cole Sigler sunk in a pair of trey-shots of their own, and junior guard Murray Becher had himself eight points as Heritage Hills seized the game with a 33-point first quarter.

Tecumseh absorbed the early HH onslaught  and responded with a 6-2 run from senior guard Steven Molinet and sophomore forward Tanner Toopes. But Sisley would land his second three-pointer and Becher would follow up with a layup off of a steal as the Patriots roared back with an 11-0 run of their own, capped by a three-point play from defensive specialist Cade Jones. Heritage Hills outscored Tecumseh 19-6 and led 52-15 at halftime.

The train kept rolling the third quarter as Scherry found Becher cutting along the baseline for the first of his 10 points for the quarter. Sisley, Jones, and senior forward Dylan Begle got in on the action as Heritage Hills built up a 40-point lead with 1:30 left in the third quarter. But the Braves, led by Arnold with six points in the quarter, kept playing hard and fighting for their right to access the rack, increasing their output to 15 points in the third.

But even with their persistent effort the Braves couldn’t muster enough offense to gain control of the game. They started the fourth quarter with five straight points, but a dunk from Sisley and a couple of sniper shots from Sigler were enough to help the Patriots secure the clamps on the game. Most of the starters took to the bench with a little over four minutes left to play in the fourth and Heritage Hills rolled to an 83-47 win to mark nine in a row.

Four players scored in double figures for the Patriots — Becher led the pack with 28, Scherry had 18 (along with four assists), Sisley had 12, and Sigler finished with 11. Arnold and Brucken both had 15 points for the Braves.

“It was fun,” said Scherry. “Everybody got in the scoring column, we were all just clicking and flowing. It felt good.”

“We really came out and attacked tonight,” added Jones, who had six points. “In the past Tecumseh has been a stitch in our side, sometimes we come out flat against them and it’s a tough game. Tonight we came out focused and ready to play.”

The players were also quick to point to the defensive end of the floor and their sharing of the ball as the catalyst that allows them to work together and achieve the kind of the success they have been able to enjoy as of late.

“We rely on our defense to get transition buckets and get the ball up the court,” said Jones. “Our offense has scored a lot, but our defense has turned into offense and it’s been great for us.”

“(It’s about) sharing the ball, getting everybody open,” added Scherry. “Everyone can say me, Murray, and Blake are at the top scoring the points, but we have to get the ball to everyone. Once everyone is scoring we’re hard to beat.”

Hawkins also believes that the team’s lone loss against the Washington Hatchets on Dec. 8 has led to an increase in the Pats’ toughness as they work to stay locked in on defense and crash the boards during the streak.

He also sees how the guys play for one another in their efforts to do other things in the floor like diving for loose balls and taking charges. He has enjoyed watching them grow and can’t wait to get back out on the floor as they march on in their campaign.

“We got a lot of guys that are doing the little things and we’re making winning plays,” he said. “These kids play for each other, they play for Heritage Hills. It’s a special group and it’s a lot of fun to be around them.”

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