Hornets avoid first-round upsets
Hillside swept its first-round state 4-A playoff games on Monday night, but the Hornets had to overcome slow starts in each game.
The girls beat Raleigh Athens Drive 66-52, while the boys cruised by Raleigh Wakefield 64-49 despite trailing after the first quarter.
“Once we slowed ourselves down and started getting the ball inside, we were able to run our game plan,” Hillside boys’ coach Crasten Davis said. “At this stage, you just have to be ready to play every game. We never know who is going to (score) for us, but we’re going to play team ball.”
Malik Evans and Robert Robinson Jr. each scored 15 points, while Marius McAllister added 12 to lead a balanced scoring effort by the Hornets (19-7).
“It was a good win for the team,” Evans said. “We got the ball down low early and often, which was good for us. We didn’t care who got the stats. We just wanted to win and move on.”
Hillside led most of the first quarter until Wakefield’s Raekwon Hall hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:07 left to give the Wolverine’s a 12-10 advantage. But that was the last time the Hornets trailed, as they turned up the defensive pressure in the second period.
The Hornets 9-2 run to start the second period thanks to forcing six turnovers in seven Wakefield possessions to go up 19-14. Hillside later held Wakefield scoreless over the final 2:20 of the half as they forced five straight misses from the field en route to a 29-20 halftime lead. Robinson hit back-to-back 3-pointers during this spurt for the Hornets.
The second half saw Hillside continue building its lead, which eventually got to points midway through the fourth quarter on a pair of made free throws by D’Ontray Johnson to give the Hornets a 60-40 lead with 3:22 remaining.
Wakefield (13-12) resorted to fouling down the stretch and shooting from long range. It helped chip away at the lead but it wasn’t nearly enough to threaten Hillside’s lead as the Hornets held on for the 15-point win.
Hillside advanced to the second round and next will travel to face Green Hope on Wednesday.
Hillside 64, Wakefield 49
WAKEFIELD — Ramone Adderly 13, Logan Evans 4, Jacori Earl 11, Raekwon Hall 10, Jake Butler 8, Tyrell Sharpe 3.
HILLSIDE — D’Ontray Johnson 6, Robert Robinson Jr. 15, Malik Evans 15, TyQuon Reid 4, Trevion Thomposon 2, Marius McAllister 12, DeShon Self 6, Marcus Bowling 4.
3-Point goals—Wakefield 4 (Hall 2, Sharpe 3, Adderly). Hillside 3 (Robinson 3).
Records—Wakefield 13-12, Hillside 19-7.
Hillside girls slip by Athens Drive
Hillside showed it could play a slower pace and still win after facing a tightly packed zone defense from Athens Drive for most of the game.
The Jaguars were content on abandoning offensive rebounding opportunities to get back on defense, and that strategy certainly kept Hillside’s running game bottled up.
Hillside coach Ovester Grays said Athens Drive was well prepared to stop the Hornets’ transition game.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Grays said. “They really got defensively, and we didn’t do as good a job of pushing the ball. But we did settle down finally against their zone and were able to get some things on the inside.”
Mylea McKennith led Hillside with 21 points, while Tykyrah Williams added 10. Jordyn Smith, the PAC-6 Player of the Year, was held to five points but said she was glad to get the win.
“It was real important to get through this first game and get some momentum for the state playoffs,” Smith said. “We played good as a team. We usually like to go fast but their zone really slowed us down a bit.”
The Hornets turned a 19-14 first quarter lead into a 34-20 advantage with 2:49 left in the half on a jumper from the left wing by McKennith. But at halftime, Hillside’s lead was down to 38-28. After an evenly-played third quarter, Hillside put the game out of reach early in the fourth period after building its biggest lead of the game at 58-41 on fastbreak score by Williams.
From there, Hillside’s lead dwindled a bit as the Hornets struggled at the free throw line. Hillside was only 2 of 10 from the line over the final 3:42 of the game.
Hillside (22-4) next will play at Holly Springs on Wednesday.
Hillside 66, Athens Drive 52
ATHENS DRIVE — Taylor Cesarski 9, Lauren Childry 2, Sarena Tripski 1, Kenzy Vandentop7, Grace Hunter 21, Joy Hunter 12.
HILLSIDE — Tykyrah Williams 10, Mylea McKennith 21, Sydney Brown 5, Justine Lyons 9, Mya Webb 7, Jordyn Smith 5, Daesha Marshall 9.
3-Point goals—Athens Drive 4 (Cesarski 3, Vandentop). Hillside 3 (McKennith 2, Brown).
Records—Athens Drive 14-13, Hillside 22-4.