The Washington Blue Lions held their 2017-18 season home opener, as well as Frontier Athletic Conference lid-lifter Friday night against the Hillsboro Indians.
The former SCOL rivals and now members of the new FAC, battled back and forth all evening in this tightly-contested affair.
When the final horn sounded, Hillsboro had emerged with a 71-66 victory.
The Indians improve to 4-0 on the season, while the Blue Lions are now 1-1.
The Blue Lions were playing the outside game, offensively, while the Indians got the ball inside for the more high percentage shots from the lane.
Senior Phil Mycroft was the game’s leading scorer for Hillsboro with 29 points. He had at least 10 rebounds for the double-double.
Junior Josh Keets followed that up with 12 points and junior Ethan Watson added nine.
Washington hit 12 three-point field goals on the night.
Junior Evan Upthegrove led the Blue Lions with 23 points. He hit four three-point field goals.
Junior Dillon Steward scored 21 points, including hitting five treys.
Junior Blaise Tayese was also in double figures with 11 points.
Junior Ross Matthews Jr. hit two three-point baskets for six points.
“We shot the ball really well,” Washington head coach Shannon Bartruff said. “I was a little concerned in the first half, because it felt like we were settling for some shots.
“We have some kids who are pretty good athletes,” Bartruff said. “Especially on the perimeter, they are hard to guard. Guys give them space because they don’t want them to blow by on the bounce.”
Washington was unofficially 22 of 50 for from the floor for 44 percent.
However, the shooting touch all but left the Blue Lions in the fourth quarter as they went 2 of 12 from the field.
The Indians were, again unofficially, 30 of 54 for 56 percent. The majority of their baskets came from underneath the rim.
Bartruff had praise for Mycroft.
“He’s skilled, but it’s more pure determination,” Bartruff said. “He’s relentless. When the shot goes up, it’s his ball, that’s the way he plays. We’re not a real big team. We have to be able to fight and at times we did. I would venture to say that they had 15 to 20 offensive rebounds. Even if they score on half of those, that’s 20 points.
“They played volleyball a lot tonight, especially Mycroft,” Bartruff said. “He got his own miss two or three times. That was the difference in the game. We have to get better.”
“I don’t know how many boards (Mycroft) had, but it was a bunch,” Hillsboro head coach Bruce Miles said. “He was a rebounding machine.
“Phillip is such a strong kid,” Miles said. “We did a good job with our post entry tonight, getting him the basketball and not forcing it. He did a great job finishing. He was just too much tonight.”
There were lead changes aplenty in this game, beginning with four in the first quarter.
Hillsboro held a 19-16 lead after the first eight minutes of action.
The Indians built upon that lead in the first part of the second quarter, pulling ahead by 11 points, 32-21.
The Blue Lions hit five three-point goals in the second quarter to draw even at the halftime break, 37-37.
The lead changed hands five times in the third quarter.
When sophomore Trevor Rarick hit a three at the buzzer, it gave the Blue Lions a 54-53 lead.
The game was tied three times in the fourth quarter, but Hillsboro never again relinquished the lead after the initial basket.
The Blue Lions are off today and back in action Tuesday at Chillicothe.
Hillsboro is home today against Batavia and then returns to FAC action at home against Jackson Tuesday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
W: 16 21 17 12 — 66
H: 19 18 16 18 — 71
WASHINGTON — Eli Lynch 0-0-0; Dillon Steward 2 (5)-2-21; Evan Upthegrove 5 (4)-1-23; Ross Matthews Jr. 0 (2)-0-6; Garitt Leisure 0-2-2; Blaise Tayese 3-5-11; Trevor Rarick 0 (1)-0-3. TOTALS — 10 (12)-10-66. Free throw shooting: 10 of 16 for 63 percent. Three-point field goals: Steward, 5; Upthegrove, 4; Matthews Jr. 2; Rarick. Field goal shooting: 22 of 50 for 44 percent. Turnovers: 6.
HILLSBORO — Mason Swayne 2-0-4; Hayden Haines 0-0-0; Marshall Ward 3-0-6; Ethan Watson 3-3-9; Jakwon Clark 3-1-7; Josh Keets 3 (1)-3-12; Phil Mycroft 13-3-29; Caleb Crawford 2-0-4. TOTALS — 29 (1)-10-71. Free throw shooting: 10 of 19 for 53 percent. Three-point field goal: Keets. Field goal shooting: 30 of 54 for 56 percent. Turnovers: 5.
Chris Hoppes is the Sports Editor for the Record-Herald in Washington Court House.