HINCKLEY – Coaches can teach many things in basketball. However, they can’t teach height, heart or the will to win.
Hinckley-Big Rock found itself down 10 points with five minutes to go against a much taller Mooseheart team in front of a packed house Wednesday night. Senior Jared Madden, who scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in the final period, sparked the hosts with a huge 3 with 1:27 left, and the Royals went on to capture a thrilling 58-51 victory over the Red Ramblers.
“It was a great turnout, which got everybody amped up and we played good,” said Madden, who started the game-ending 13-0 run with one of his five 3-pointers. “Being the first home game, it was a good win and hopefully we continue to do this.”
Fellow senior Bernie Conley added 12 points and five steals. He echoed Madden’s feelings on the atmosphere.
“That was the funnest game I have ever played in,” Conley said. “The crowd was amazing on both sides. At the end we were able to hit some big shots, we just couldn’t miss at the end.”
H-BR (5-1) bolted out to a 10-0 lead to begin the game with Mitch Ruh connecting on back-to-back threes, but Mooseheart responded with a 12-0 run of its own to finish out the quarter. After a see-saw second frame the visitors still held a slim 23-22 advantage, with MHS junior Makur Puou netting eight of his game-high 25 points and grabbing six of his 17 rebounds.
“[H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes] told us to keep playing hard and to pick up the tempo on the defensive end,” Madden said. “We did and were able to get some turnovers.”
Mooseheart (3-3) trailed early in the third 31-27 after a Conley trey, but Puou’s alley-opp dunk ignited a 14-0 run to give the Red Ramblers a 41-33 lead heading to the fourth. Then the Madden show began.
“He was lights out in the fourth quarter,” Conley said of Madden, who missed just one of five shots after going 3-for-9 through three quarters. “We needed to execute on offense and stop them on defense and we were able to do that in the final couple minutes. We did everything we could to keep them out of the lane and off the boards.”
The keys to the game going in were how the Royals would negate the seven-plus inches per man they were giving up, could they hit outside shots and their ability to hang on to the ball against their long-armed opponent.
H-BR was out-rebounded in the game, 39-27, but only committed 12 turnovers while forcing 26, including 11 in the final eight minutes. They also shot 10-of-20 from three-point land.
“These kind of games get you ready for the postseason,” Madden said. “It was really fun”