Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Oak Creek Free throws -- the two Evan Hilling made and the 15 Soroco missed -- made the difference Tuesday night.
With 19 seconds left in the basketball game in Oak Creek, the Hayden sophomore stepped to the line several seconds after missing the front end of a one-and-one.
This time Hilling made both -- nothing but net -- giving his team an all-important four-point lead.
Hilling's second free throw secured the 39-38 win, as Soroco junior Jack Means drained a 3-pointer with three seconds left.
Time expired as Hayden went to inbound the ball, and the officials met briefly after the horn sounded to confirm the Rams did not call a timeout before the clock struck zero.
Hilling, normally Hayden's leading scorer, only had nine points Tuesday night but none proved more important than his two from the foul line in the closing seconds of the game.
"Those were the biggest of my life," he said.
The victory was more than just one notch in the win column for the Tigers. Last year, Hayden failed to defeat Soroco, losing by eight at home and getting kicked on the road.
Neither coach -- the Tigers' Shawn Baumgartner or the Rams' Andy Smith -- was a part of those teams. Each is a first-year coach, but the two men understand the importance of beating the other.
"I thought we handled ourselves well in the end," Baumgartner said. "A win like this is big for us. It will help us down the road."
The road has been paved with a rare close game for the young Tigers, so to hold on for the victory proved something to the squad, Hilling said.
"After the game, coach told us that we grew up," Hilling said.
Heading into Tuesday's contest, Baumgartner said he expected a tough, aggressive defense from the Rams, and he wasn't disappointed. Frequently, the Tigers' point guards had difficulty either bringing the ball up the court or making that first pass to start the half-court offense.
What Baumgartner was pleased with was the offensive execution once Hayden was able to get the ball moving around.
Junior Dustin Driscoll capitalized on nearly every opportunity he had to shoot, scoring a game-high 26 points.
He was a little surprised after the game.
"I think we stepped up a lot," Driscoll said. "We kept our discipline to hold on for the win."
After the game, Smith said there was one stat he didn't want to know -- free-throw percentage.
The Rams made just 10 of their 25 free throws, a 40 percent clip for the game.
"It's the free-throw line," Smith said. "I think every game we've played that's been the problem. That's really our team issue. I think we should have won this game. I mean Hayden played well, but we know we can play better."
Means was Soroco's leading scorer with 13 points. Junior Kory Babcock and senior Justin Spaeth each had nine.
The win moved Hayden's record to 2-5 overall, while the Rams fall to 3-6. Tuesday's game was not a league contest. The boys will square off again on Feb. 7 in Hayden in a league game.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com