As a new basketball season began at Hillcrest Academy on Tuesday night, a few things were not ideal.
The typical buzz of an opening-night crowd was missing with limitations on attendance.
An injury kept Luke Schrock out of the rotation while Eli Ours and John Hughes were quickly sent to the bench with foul trouble.
And the Ravens played the first five-and-a half-minutes without scoring a point.
Trailing by one at the halftime break, Hillcrest made key adjustments on both ends of the court and pulled away for a 60-33 win over Mediapolis.
“I think we had some great traps and our pressure—that really kind of made the difference in the game,” Hillcrest coach Dwight Gingerich said. “We moved the ball offensively better. We had a flow.”
The Ravens held Mediapolis to a single field goal during a 22-5 third quarter.
Sidelined early with a pair of fouls, Ours returned to the court and scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half.
“We started out in a zone pressure which gave them some trouble and then we dropped back to a 2-3 zone,” Ours said. “We had active hands and moved our feet really well."
Noah Miller, Ours, and Grant Bender hit consecutive 3-pointers during an 18-0 run that began in the third quarter.
Ours capped the run with a steal and score to put Hillcrest up 46-25 early in the fourth.
“I think we just moved the ball really well,” Ours said about the offense. “They played a 2-3 zone, so ball movement was really a big part of it.”
Miller scored all 11 of his points in the second half. With Ours on the bench, Miller stepped up and played heavy minutes, finishing with eight assists.
“He really played well for us,” Gingerich said. “They went to a box-and-one and Noah stepped up and hit a huge three.”
After falling behind 7-0 with 2:35 left in the first quarter, it took Hillcrest about 40 seconds to tie the game with baskets from Hughes, Ours and Aidan Yoder.
Bender’s 3-pointer gave Hillcrest its first lead of the season at 10-9, but another five-minute field goal drought followed.
“We just didn’t have a lot of movement in the first half and they were very active in their zone,” Gingerich said.
“Our timing was just off… I think just the first-game excitement had guys moving too quick in certain ways. We weren’t all together on the same page.”
The Bulldogs led by as many as four in the second quarter, but Aiden Krabill hit a pair of shots from behind the arc to pull Hillcrest within a point at the break.
“We had Eli and John out… and we kind of climbed back into it with the guys that we had,” Gingerich said.
“I thought those guys really battled through that. The guys, I thought, handled themselves. They didn’t panic and hung in there when it was kind of rough.”
Krabill finished with 10 points and a team-high five rebounds. Bender scored 10 as well as the Ravens started the unique winter season 1-0.
“It’s just so strange, everything about what we’re doing is just different,” Gingerich said.
“Having guys with you and then not with you due to situations with family or whatever. You’re just glad to be out on the floor. I think the guys just enjoy playing and we’re happy to be out there.”