Unsurprisingly, Hillcrest looked a little rusty in the first quarter on Saturday after a two-week break from practices and games.
But it didn’t take long for the Ravens to find their offensive flow.
A 20-4 first-half run turned a 13-12 advantage into a comfortable lead for Hillcrest, who went on to defeat Morningstar 73-42.
The Ravens relied on the inside presence of John Hughes and the outside shooting of Grant Bender during the key second quarter. The pair combined for 19 points in the period as Hillcrest took a 38-20 lead into halftime.
Hughes was 8-11 from the floor, leading the Ravens with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“I found most of my looks just running down the court and posting up,” Hughes said.
“I had a couple of passes in the flow of the offense. Whether it was a putback, or a pass into the post, I was able to capitalize down there.”
Bender hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter and finished with a career-high 14 points.
The sophomore guard said he spent a lot of time working on his offensive game over the summer.
“I wanted to work like Eli (Ours) works and I practiced it,” he said. “I guess I just didn’t get the confidence until today to do that.”
Ours was 7-10 from the floor and scored 12 of his 17 points in the first quarter. He made three of five 3-point attempts and finished with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Noah Miller had six assists as well. Will Kolck scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter.
Hillcrest was unable to practice for two weeks after the team was determined to have been in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Hillcrest basketball team practiced for 90 minutes on Saturday morning to prepare for its first action since December 18.
“It really makes you just appreciate every minute you have in the gym,” Hillcrest coach Dwight Gingerich said. “I think it creates a sense of urgency to make that time really count. And I thought this morning, that time was really good.
“There were several guys that were able to come in two days before, about four or five guys who would primarily play JV and it was really good to have the chance to work with those guys.”
Aidan Yoder was able to practice a couple times and earned his first start of the season. He scored all three of his points at the free throw line on four attempts. All 10 players who dressed on Saturday scored at least a point. Miller, Aiden Krabill and Luke Schrock each had four.
Aaron Hershberger had two points, three rebounds and two assists. Schrock also had two assists for the Ravens, who had 21 assists on 29 field goals.
The nonconference matchup with Morningstar came at a good time for the Ravens, who return to league action on January 5 against Lone Tree.
“It was just a really good opportunity for us come out and just get up and down a little bit and play after not really doing anything,” Gingerich said.
“You almost approach something like this as a scrimmage or a jamboree a little bit, just to get action going into next week with three games. We were grateful for the opportunity, and I thought the guys did a nice job considering everything.”