LEES CREEK —Behind a big night from Ryan Scott, Hillsboro was able to fend off a furious East Clinton rally Tuesday for a 71-64 win in non-league boys basketball at the EC gym.
Scott had 25 points for the Indians, despite playing just the first three quarters.
“He’s a heckuva player. A multi-sport athlete that works extremely hard. His leadership skills and playmaking skills have improved greatly. For those that haven’t seen him play you need to,” said Hillsboro coach Miles Burton.
Branson Smith led East Clinton with 26 points.
Prior to the game, a special plaque was dedicated near the scorer’s table to commemorate the 40 years of service to East Clinton athletics by Rick Little, who has served as the EC timekeeper for boys and girls varsity basketball for almost 1,000 games.
It was senior night for Matt Hall, Matthew Mitchell, Gunner Neanover and Colton Vadnais. The EC quartet was honored prior to the game.
Both teams were looking to finish strong, as the Astros have played some of their better games in recent weeks, while Hillsboro was fresh off a 71-38 shellacking of rival McClain.
The teams traded three-pointers in the opening seconds, first Neanover then Scott. Neanover followed with another three near the 5:00 mark to put the Astros on top 7-5.
East Clinton’s zone forced the Indians to settle for threes and they weren’t falling after Scott’s initial shot. Neanover continued his huge opening period with a third three-pointer. Vadnais had a layin to put EC on top 12-7.
Caleb Crawford made it 12-9 but Neanover made a fourth shot from “downtown” to ignite the Astro crowd, 15-9.
“Our seniors came out and played a great first quarter. These are great kids. They are all gonna do well in life. I’m proud of them,” said EC head coach Tony Berlin.
The Indians once again looked to Crawford early in the second and he delivered with a short jumper. Scott’s second three, this one from the corner, gave the Indians their first lead at 16-15. Scott connected from the same spot a couple possessions later, as a 13-2 run from HHS made it 24-17.
The Astro drought ended with a nice pass from Mitchell to Vadnais for a jumper at the 2:00 mark to cut it back to five, but two straight EC turnovers led to quick Indian buckets. Crawford ended the quarter how he began it, with a field goal, this one as time expired to make it Hillsboro 32 East Clinton 20 at the half.
Scott matched Neanover’s four threes as he hit a long one to begin he second half, and soon after added a fifth. The Astros tried to keep pace, with a Dylan Peterman three, and a good look from Branson Smith to Quinten Tolle, but the Indian offense was in high gear.
Scott’s layup after a Lawton Parry steal and assist gave the Indians their largest lead at 18 halfway through the quarter. Scott made his sixth three of the night and was fouled. He completed the rare four point play and added two more free throws for good measure to blow things wide open.
Burton opted to keep his starters on the bench to rest throughout the quarter, as his team faces the high-powered Blanchester Wildcats Wednesday night, and the Astros crept back to within 13 at the 6:00 mark. A Vadnais lay in for EC made it 57-46 Hillsboro, but a Parry three answered that to keep the difference in double digits. Peterman’s assist to Smith finally got it to single digits for the Astros at 64-56, but only 1:57 showed on the clock.
After a Parry layup for the Indians, Smith’s three-point play and Peterman’s three-point basket tightened things even more, 69-64. Two Indian free throws from Quintin Captain finally put it away for Hillsboro.
“It was a true team win tonight,” said Burton. “We played 14 guys. All those guys work hard and they deserve an opportunity. We grew up tonight. We are excited about the future.”
The Astros host Fayetteville Friday night in a Bud Phillips Scholarship game. Hillsboro hosts Brayden Sipple and the 19-1 Blanchester Wildcats Wednesday night in what should be an entertaining match up.
In the junior varsity game, Hillsboro defeated East Clinton 45-22. Landon Weber led the Indians with nine points. Trent Garen was the top scorer for the Astros with seven.
In the freshman game, Hillsboro came out on top 43-20. Dylan Day had 10 points to pace the East Clinton offense. Korbin Adams scored 13 for Hillsboro.
Brian Georges cover high school sports for the News Journal.