For nearly four years, Evan Hilling has been a varsity member of the Hayden boys basketball team. On Tuesday night, he was rewarded for his offensive consistency by scoring his 1,000th career point for the Tigers.
He had no idea.
"My dad did a good job hiding it," Hilling said. "I didn't know."
Hilling played in his 79th game for Hayden on Tuesday and reached the prep milestone by averaging 12.7 points a game for nearly four years. On Tuesday, he finished with 20 points in Hayden's 55-38 win against West Grand, scoring his 1,000th on a 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half.
Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner, who was one of the few who knew Hilling was at 997 career points before Tuesday's game, pulled Hilling briefly to allow the students to chant his name and Hilling's parents to give him a hug on the sidelines.
"That is a very big individual accomplishment," Baumgartner said. "It takes a good player to do that and the teammates to get him the ball."
After building as much as a 15-point lead early in the third quarter -- thanks to a Hilling 3-pointer -- Hayden appeared ready to pull away from West Grand.
Missed free throws, turnovers because of West Grand's full-court press and better offensive rebounding by the Mustangs, however, enabled them to close to within nine in the third quarter.
West Grand got no closer, though it had a chance to really swing momentum in the final three minutes trailing by 15.
Hayden senior Chris Frentress picked up a foul and a technical foul with 2:59 left, but Peter Hargadine made three of four free throws, and the Mustangs couldn't capitalize on their subsequent possession. The Tigers pulled away late behind two free throws from senior Cam Whiteman and four points from Hilling.
Although the Tigers didn't play at their best, Hilling said Tuesday's game against the Mustangs was a big one for the team, especially the seniors who hadn't realized what winning basketball really was until last year.
"To us, West Grand is a big rival," Hilling said. "We don't like them very much. When we were freshmen, they tried to put up 100 points on us."
In addition to Hilling's 20 points, junior Keenan Bruchez added 10, including six in the first two minutes. He left early in the second half with a foot injury, but Baumgartner didn't expect it to be anything serious.
Jordan Miller scored 11 to lead West Grand.
Hayden (14-3 overall) returns to the court at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Meeker in Hayden. The Tigers travel to Little Snake River in Baggs, Wyo., for a Friday game.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com