Hillcrest Ends Highland’s Cinderella Hopes

Caden+Hilborn+battling+in+the+post.
Caden Hilborn battling in the post.

Caden Hilborn battling in the post.

Julia Daines

Julia Daines

Caden Hilborn battling in the post.

Elijah Straight, Editor-In-Chief

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Highland entered Thursday’s battle vs Hillcrest after one of the emotional endings to a game in recent memory.  Upsetting one seed Timpview off a near half court buzzer beater, Highland looked to continue their cinderella run in the playoffs against Hillcrest, who the Rams had lost to badly in the regular season.  Unfortunately there would be no miracle finish this time for the Rams, who ended their season as they fell to the Huskies 59-47.

Highland entered this game a little banged up from the showdown with Timpview, with junior Elijah Shelton playing with a partly swollen black eye.  The Rams and Huskies traded blows back and forth, but turnovers and subpar shooting was the story of the first quarter for both teams.  The exception to this though was Highland senior Charlie Gochnour who shot lights out for the Rams the entire game.  There were several moments in the first quarter where Hillcrest looked to start pulling away, but Gochnour pulled up from what can only be described as NBA three point range multiple times to keep the Huskies within reach.  The first quarter ended 17-13 with the Huskies in front but the Rams were not going away.

In the second quarter the basketball gods seemingly put a lid on both of the baskets.  Both the Rams and the Huskies only managed to score four points in the entire quarter.  This was a quarter where both teams on every offensive possession either turned the ball over, missed shots, or even more frustratingly, missed free throws.  The one bright spot in this quarter for the Rams was the battle of the boards.  Highland out rebounded the Huskies time after time again, in particular Shelton who hustled for every rebound and ended up finishing the game with 10 rebounds.  After a sloppy shooting quarter, the first half ended 21-17.

The second half started out with Highland looking to switch things up at the defensive end, with the Rams reverting to a 1-3-1 defensive set.  At first, this threw the Huskies for a major loop, and they were not able to much on the offensive end.  This, coupled with back to back buckets by Trayton Keyes in the paint allowed the Rams  to get within arms reach of the Huskies.  But as the quarter wore on, the Huskies began to pass around the 1-3-1 defensive set, and ended the quarter up 38-31 on the Rams.

Highland continued to run this 1-3-1 defensive set in the fourth quarter, but the Huskies at this point were managing to pass around the defensive set.  Aided by some deep threes, it looked like this was going to be the end for the Rams.  But then back to back threes by Shelton and Gochnour put the Rams just two possessions down, 48-42 with 2:24 left in the game.  However, Hillcrest kept slowly but surely building the lead, and several offensive possessions that came up empty handed spelled doom for the Rams.  Down 52-45 with 58 seconds left, the Rams were forced to start fouling, and Hillcrest seemingly could not miss from the line, hitting 13 of 18 FTs in the game.  The Rams season and cinderella dreams ended with a final score of 59-47.

“It was a very successful year because nobody expected anything from us,” Gochnour said.  “We worked hard and earned everything we got.  I’m proud to be a Ram.”

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