HILLSBORO – Don’t look now, but the Runnin’ Tigers have pieced together back-to-back quality wins and with four games to play are in firm control of third place in District 11-3A. Decide to not look a little closer and one may find Glen Rose has a legitimate opportunity to knock Brock off of the second-place platform, as well.
But let us take it one game at a time for now.
After all, it sure was pleasant to watch the clock wind down with the Runnin’ Tigers “firmly” in control of the 58-52 road win. No, it was not a 20-point win, but that is not what this year’s (21-8, 6-4) Glen Rose team is wired to do. Cruising to wins is quite obviously not quite competitive enough to keep the Runnin’ Tigers mentally engaged.
And that is fine, so long as their fans don’t mind a few extra grey hairs and the team continues to pickup wins on the court.
Going into Tuesday’s road test against (21-9, 5-5) Hillsboro, head coach Owen Clifton said his team needed to use the momentum from Friday’s overtime win to its full advantage.
Outside of a 20-spot in the third quarter that culminated in a 25-to-13 Hillsboro scoring run to put the Eagles in the lead early in the fourth quarter, Glen Rose was fairly dominant from start to finish.
The Runnin’ Tigers outscored the Eagles in three of the four quarters and did not allow more than 14 points in any of those three frames. Behind Wyatt Goebel and Bailey Holder’s team-high eight rebounds, Glen Rose outmuscled the longer Hillsboro squad 28-25 on the glass and used a pair of steal from three different players en route to a nine-steal night as a team.
For the first time in more than a month, the Runnin’ Tigers drew fewer whistles than their opponent (12-15), but still managed to play Clifton’s aggressive-style of basketball.
By the numbers, the Runnin’ Tigers had a very nice night shooting the ball and posted a respectable 46 percent from the field (21-46) and 61 percent from the charity stripe (11-18).
But it was an especially nice shooting night for point guard Tucker Garza. Garza drained a game-high four three pointers and knocked down all five of his free throws on his way to a team-high 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Holder fell two rebounds short of a double-double with 13 points to go with his eight boards, Goebel notched nine points, Ethan Hartman added seven points, Logan Thames returned for four, and Layne McAnear and Devin Crawford score two points, each.
A 4-0 Glen Rose run to start the first quarter was quickly countered by a 6-0 Hillsboro run to give the Eagles an early lead. Holder took a Garza pass from just beyond midcourt to the basket and around Grayson Lee’s awaiting charge.
Lee’s eyes were closed and he literally never saw Holder’s two points that tied the game at six with 4:12 on the first quarter clock.
Four points on both ends of the court was followed by a 4-0 Hillsboro stint to give the Eagles a 14-10 lead.
That was until Garza exploded for six points and Overton found a knifing Thames for a layup – all with under 90 seconds on the clock – to send the Runnin’ Tigers into the second quarter with an 18-14 lead.
Hartman’s best Karem-esqe baby hook in the lane and a Holder layup sandwiched a Hillsboro basket in transition to start the second quarter.
The Glen Rose lead ran to double digits when Garza ripped the ball away from Drew Schroeder and took the rock coast-to-coast for a finger-roll layup with 2:41 on the first half clock.
Hillsboro’s Courtney Hewitt – son of the Eagles’ head coach with the same name – entered the game with a 32-percent mark from three-point land and he buried a three with under two minutes to play. McAnear wasted no time on the ensuing Glen Rose possession in taking the ball directly to the basket for two points and a nine-point lead.
Hillsboro added a free throw on three attempts over the final 48 seconds and Glen Rose carried a 32-24 lead into the second half.
Hillsboro opened the first four minutes of the third quarter on a 14-10 run behind a pair of Hewitt three’s and, after a Hewitt layup with 2:42 on the clock, cut the once eight-point deficit to two, 42-40.
Glen Rose added a three, but Hillsboro added four points to close out the third quarter with a single Glen Rose point separating the two.
The Runnin’ Tigers 45-44 lead disappeared shortly after. Hillsboro turned two forced turnovers into four easy points and knocked down the second-end of technical foul free throws to build its first lead since the opening quarter, 49-45.
Garza’s two free throws with 6:20 on the clock were the first points of the fourth quarter for the Runnin’ Tigers.
Hillsboro’s 25-to-13-offensive burst slowed following the Garza free throws. The point guard’s interception of a Brandon Cannon fast-break pass led to a Thames layup to tie the game at 49 with just over five minutes to play.
Goebel converted his two free throw opportunities with the Runnin’ Tigers leading by one to extend the lead to 53-50 with 3:18 to play in regulation.
With Hillsboro in the half-court press, Crawford found Hartman wide open in the corner and the guard then found Goebel for an easy layup and a six-point lead with under 90 seconds on the fourth quarter clock.
The six-point lead held – after a Hillsboro layup and a pair of Holder free throws – and Glen Rose completed one of its more quality wins, 58-52.
The Runnin’ Tigers will return to the hardwood on Friday, Feb. 5 with a 7:30 p.m. tip on the road against second-place Brock.