Skip to main content

Indians open season with win over Hurricane

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article
Hillsboro's Tate Davis led the Indians with 23 points in their season opener against Wilmington, Friday at HHS. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

HILLSBORO — The first game of the 2023-24 season belongs to the Hillsboro Indians, as a strong start, along with clutch play in the final moments, was more than enough for the Indians to fend off an aggressive and hard-charging Wilmington Hurricane team, with HHS winning the home non-conference game by a 66-52 score.

“Anytime we can start off with a win, it’s good,” Hillsboro head coach Josh Howland said. “We’ve certainly got a lot to learn from that win, though. We had a lot of mistakes, especially in the second half, but at the end of the day it’s about being resilient and overcoming the mistakes, and I thought we did.

“Coming into this year, it’s a point of emphasis for us that we wanted to move well without the ball. It’s easy to blame the guy who has the ball for not finding the open guy, but the guy’s got to get open, too. We feel like we’re moving better without the ball, but we’ve still got room for improvement.”

The start for the Indians saw them hold an 18-7 lead after the first quarter over the ’Cane — who are now coached by former WHS standout Jaevin Cumberland — and after WHS scored the first points of the game, Hillsboro scored the next five with a 3-pointer by Tate Davis and a put-back basket by Steven Kibler for the early 5-2 lead.

After the teams exchanged baskets on a couple occasions, including a layup by Dorian Stewart, the Indians went on a 11-3 run to end the first frame with a basket from Nic Burns, a jumper from Jack Howland, a 3-pointer and jumper by Davis, and the quarter ended with a jumper at the buzzer by Stewart for the 18-7 advantage.

Davis led the Indians with 23 points, finishing with two two-point baskets, four 3-pointers, and he was 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Stewart scored 12 points in the win over WHS, as he totaled four two-point baskets and he made four shots from the free-throw line. Kibler also scored 12 points for the Indians, as he collected six two-point baskets in the victory.

Howland ended the game with 11 points in his varsity debut. The freshman made five two-point baskets and one free throw. Other final scoring totals for the Indians included Burns with seven points and Brayden Hunter with one point.

HHS outscored the ’Cane 13-8 in the second frame and put on a solid display of basketball in front of their home crowd, with Stewart starting the quarter with a made free throw, followed later by a three-point play, also by Stewart, with 6:46 left in the second frame for a 22-9 lead.

HHS added to their lead with a put-back basket by the freshman Howland with 5:35 left in the first half. After four consecutive points by the visitors, Davis went 3-of-3 from the free-throw line after he was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter.

After a WHS layup by Bryson Platt, HHS ended the second quarter and first half with a put-back basket from Kibler and a layup also by Kibler, off an assist from Hunter, for the halftime lead of 31-15.

The Indians outscored WHS 23-17 in the third and held their largest lead of the game twice at 29 points, starting with 2:47 left in the second, and regaining that same advantage with 2:00 left in the same quarter. The Indians ultimately ended the third with a 54-32 lead after three frames.

In that third quarter, Davis made two 3-pointers, two free throws and a two-point basket. Also in the third, Hunter sank a free throw and Kibler made three two-point baskets. Burns, Howland, and Stewart each scored two points in the third frame off a shot from the field for the HHS lead of 22 points at 54-32.

Wilmington didn’t stop battling, as their aggressive play forced the Indians into miscues, leading to the Wilmington squad cutting into the lead of the Indians. At the start of the fourth, the Indians led by 22 points, and by the time there was 4:54 on the clock the play of Wilmington had cut Hillsboro’s lead to 12 points and forced the Indians to call a timeout, with HHS leading 56-44.

“Wilmington played hard,” Howland said. “Hats off, they did not quit all the way to the end. When you get down 20-plus points, it’s easy to quit, and they didn’t show any signs of quit at all.

"They went hard the whole time, which will help make us better as well, because we play in a tough conference where teams are going to battle all the way to the end. It’s a good season opener for us.”

HHS eventually built their lead back to 18 points with a basket by Burns, two free throws made by Stewart and a layup with 3:37 left in the game from Howland.

WHS answered with a 7-0 run form Jayce Kibler and Mikey Brown, and with that the Indians’ lead was cut to 11 points with 2:05 left in regulation.

A timeout was called by the Indians, and from there they saw  multiple trips to the free-throw line with HHS finishing the final 1:47 of the game 4-of-10. Those four points, combined with the 11-point lead already held by HHS (WHS was 1-of-2 in that same span from the free-throw line), was enough to give the Indians a 15-point win.

For the game, Wilmington was led in scoring by Jayce Kibler with 23 points and Mikey Brown with 15 points. Other final scoring totals included Julius Johnson (2), Stevie Rickman (2), Bryson Platt (5), Malachi Cumberland (2), and Jose Morales (3).

Next for HHS (1-0) is a Frontier Athletic Conference game against Washington, Dec. 5 at HHS.

    07 08 17 20 — 52
HHS    18 13 23 12 — 66

HILLSBORO (66) — T.Davis 2 (4) 7-7 23, B.Hunter 0 (0) 1-2 1, S.Kibler 6 (0) 0-0 12, N.Burns 3 (0) 1-2 7, J.Howland 5 (0) 1-3 11, D.Stewart 4 (0) 4-10 12. TOTALS: 20 (4) 14-24 66.

WILMINGTON (52) — M.Brown 6 (0) 3-4 15, J.Jackson 1 (0) 0-0 2, S.Rickman 0 (0) 2-2 2, B.Platt 2 (0) 1-3 5, M.Cumberland 1 (0) 0-0 2, J.Morales 0 (1) 0-0 3, J.Kibler 6 (1) 8-11 23. TOTALS: 16 (2) 14-20 52.