Hillside fights through flu, Cary Academy
The Hillside Hornets had a lot to overcome in an 81-71 victory over Cary Academy in a Mix 101.5 Bracket game of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational Tournament at Cary Academy on Wednesday afternoon.
For starters, there was the post-Christmas blues. Then, a flu bug has swept through the Hornets roster, even affecting coach Ovester Grays.
And, oh yeah, there was the 39 points by Cary Academy's star senior Mickayla Sanders.
"We've been really fighting the flu bug on our team," said Grays, who was headed to see his doctor after the game. "Everybody's tired and beat with this tough bug, including myself. Being an inconsistent practice schedule and games over the holiday, we'd expected there'd be some inconsistent play.
“We weren't satisfied with the way we played. We were just happy to get the win against what we know is a good team."
Sanders, a 6-1 forward, took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of her team's 25 points, including six in an 8-0 run that cut Hillside's lead to 71-69 with 1:13 to play.
But the Hornets' Justine Lyons made four free throws down the stretch, and Hillside forced two consecutive turnovers to hold on.
"We knew coming in she was their primary scorer," Grays said of Sanders. "I've been watching her since she was 10 years old, so I know she can shoot the ball. We didn't do a good job on helping out on her when she went to her right, because we know she likes to do that. I didn't think we did a good job of defending her, but she's a tremendous shooter. She doesn't need much space."
But Sanders did need some help, something she didn't get much of when Hillside turned up its defensive pressure in the second half. The Hornets forced 14 turnovers in the final two quarters, with Lyons, Mylea McKenith and Mya Webb wreaking havoc in the Chargers' backcourt and spurring numerous fastbreak buckets.
"Their pressure definitely took us out of some of the stuff we wanted to run," Cary Academy coach Mike Zeilman said. "We knew they were going to play super good defense. I've seen them play for years. They're pressure took it to us."
Grays said a change in philosophy led to the increased defensive tempo, a style the Hornets like to play.
"We started out with zone pressure and traps, and they dealt with that pretty good in the first half," Grays said. "Second half, we went full-court man and some deny defense, and we got a series of turnovers and got out to a six, eight-point lead and got a little more comfortable."
Lyons scored 13 of her team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, and 13 of Webb's 18 points came in the second half.
Hillside faces Broughton in the second round of the tournament today at 1:30 p.m. at Cary Academy.
HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational Tournament
Mix 101.5 Bracket
Hillside 81, Cary Academy 71
HILLSIDE – Justine Lyons 23, Mya Webb 18, Mylea McKenith 9, Jordyn Smith 9, Tykrah Williams 8, Khara Herring 6, Sydney Brown 4, Daesha Marshall 4.
CARY ACADEMY – Mickayla Sanders 39, Rebekah Banks 14, Victoria Powell 10, Brittany Powell 5, Cassy Stafford 3.
3-point FG – Hillside 2 (Webb 2), Cary Academy 3 (Sanders 2, Stafford 1). Rebounds – Hillside 22, Cary Academy 24 (Banks 9), Assists – Hillside 7 (Lyons 3), Cary Academy 6 (B. Powell 2, V. Powell 2).
Records – Hillside 10-1, Cary Academy 7-3.