The biggest basketball showdown in Highland County went down in Greenfield Friday night as the McClain Tigers hosted their rival the Hillsboro Indians in a game that proved to be one exciting contest.
After all was said and done, the Hillsboro crowd got to be the loudest as time expired with their team up 54-53 and taking home the win.
In the first quarter, as it was all night, the teams were going back and forth, neither giving very much breathing room to the other. With 2:30 left in the first frame, Hillsboro was able to jump out to a 14-8 lead over McClain, but then McClain got hot, especially Cody Hardesty, who hit two from behind the arc in a span of a minute to lead his team on a 11-0 run to close out the first period and McClain had a 19-14 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.
At the start of the second quarter, the Tigers kept the run going, scoring first at 6:54. Then Hillsboro went on a little run of their own over the next two and a half minutes, outscoring the Tigers 8-3. From there until the final second the two teams continued to go back and forth with the lead. With just 51 second to go, McClain was able to get the ball into big man Starkey who put it up and in to make it 30-29 in favor of McClain. It was looking like this would be the final points of the half, as Hillsboro was unable to get anything going on their end to at least tie the score before the buzzer. With just seconds to go, the Indians put up a shot that missed and went off the back of the rim but Marshall Ward was there to snag the rebound and quickly get out to the three point line and throw up a shot as the buzzer went off. The shot found nothing but the bottom of the net and Hillsboro had a 32-30 lead going into the half.
McClain was able to come back out in the third quarter and clamp down on their defense while getting the ball consistently into their big mean and after the third quarter, it was Greenfield up 42-40.
Saying that the fourth and final quarter of the night was intense would be a drastic understatement. A majority of the crowd on both sides were on their feet, trying to out-cheer the other. It was neck-and-neck throughout the quarter. Twice in the quarter, the Tigers were able to pull ahead by seven points, but the Indians just kept coming back. With 1:58 to go, McClain pulled back ahead by six points to make it 53-47. Unfortunaetely, it was the last time McClain would score as Hillsboro went on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes, capped off with a layup by DJ Brown with just 7.4 seconds left. McClain was able to get the ball to the other end of the floor and get a shot off and even an attempt at tipping the miss back in, back the buzzer sounded and the Indians left the court victorious with a final of 54-53.
“We knew coming in, the McClain’s size would be a problem but we have some big guys as well,” said Indians coach Bruce Miles after the game. “Our help side wasn’t very good for a majority of the game. Mischal and Starkey were able to get position, and they’re good down there when they get it. We camped down on it a lot there towards the end, credit to our guys for fighting back that final minute and a half and be able to claw back and get a victory tonight.
“Tonight’s atmosphere was awesome. It was a packed house and I think we treated the fans to heck of a ball game tonight.”
HHS: 14 18 8 14 – 54
MHS: 19 11 12 11 – 53
Hillsboro: Brown 9 – 18; Mycroft 7 1/1 – 15; Kibler 2(1) – 7; Ryan 3 – 6; Ward 1(1) – 5; Reed (1) – 3. Totals: 22(3) 1/1 – 54
McClain: Starkey 7 – 14; Mischal 4 4/5 – 12; Barton 1(3) 0/1 – 11; Hardesty 1(2) – 8; Hollar 1(1) – 5; Dean (1) – 3. Totals: 14(7) 4/6 – 53.
Reach Robert Stegbauer at 937-393-3456 ext. 1679 or on Twitter @RStegbauer.