In a small-town like Lone Tree, high school athletics can be a major aspect of life. But there are more important things, like the well-being of the athletes who compete, with hopes of maybe moving …
In a small-town like Lone Tree, high school athletics can be a major aspect of life. But there are more important things, like the well-being of the athletes who compete, with hopes of maybe moving up that athletic ladder. In this competitive outing between the Hillcrest Ravens and the Lone Tree Lions, Hillcrest star Grant Bender, (leading scorer) fell awkwardly after scoring in the first quarter, spraining his ankle according to head coach Dwight Gingerich, and missing the remainder of the game.
“I was really proud of our guys to kind of rally without [Bender] for the bulk of the game,” Gingerich said. “We really saw guys step up.”
In Bender’s absence, the Ravens faced a hungry Lion squad ready to pounce. The Ravens held a tight lead through the first half. The score was 15-14 after one and 28-25 at half. Hillcrest had the lead for almost the entirety of the game.
“We had a lot of young guys out there on the court get it done. Rowan Miller, Freshman, comes in and hits some big shots for us, played really well,” Gingerich said. “Mason Bender, Bryce Bailey, two sophomores, in addition to Seth Ours, played really long stretches well for us, played hard defensively.”
At the start of the second half, the Lions fought hard, capturing the lead twice. First with a three-pointer from senior Drew Gauley, to make it 31-30. After Lone Tree lost the lead, junior Ethan Bockelman, hit another three to give the Lions a 36-34 lead, their last of the game.
The Ravens dealt with adversity well in this matchup, weathering the Lion storm by taking command for the rest of the game, going on a 27-14 run to win 61-50.
“Playing on the road, your leading scorer is out, [Lone Tree] is making a run, it was really good to see our guys step up to the challenge and rally together.” Gingerich said. “We had some guys who grew up tonight, you know, that played well, that are young and that really proved to be decisive.”
The Ravens won, but not before the Lions made one final push in the fourth. The Lions had a 10-2 stretch, catching up with a score of 55-50. The only break in their scoring was a steal and score by senior, Luke Schrock. The crowd was ballistic after this stretch, seeing a potential come-from-behind victory. A timeout was called, seemingly settling the Ravens as they scored the final six points.
For the Ravens, it was a team effort. Schrock led in scoring with 21. Miller was second with ten points and Ours was right behind at eight. Schrock and Ours both led in rebounds with seven and Schrock led in assists with four.
Lone Tree did play a very competitive game. They missed many scoring opportunities that could’ve helped them pull away in the end. Gauley had an impressive showing, he seemingly commanded play for the Lions, moving up and down the court with ease. Gauley always seemed to have the ball and made many defensive plays.
This game was played at a very physical level, led by Schrock for the Ravens, who knocked down Lions on his way to the net on various occasions. There were other times throughout the game where a scrimmage on the ground for the ball ensued, most times play halted as referees stepped in to get players back on their feet.
The atmosphere in this game was phenomenal. When the visiting Ravens scored, the left side of the audience erupted in cheers. When the Lions scored, the right side made this small gymnasium feel like a fully-fledged stadium. The student section for Lone Tree was very active, waving hands and being as noisy as possible for opposing free throw shots.
Lone Tree will play at home on Friday, January 27, against Pekin.
Hillcrest will travel to Waco on Friday, January 27.