SOMONAUK – With fouls piling up for Hinckley-Big Rock’s starters, Andrew Klambauer provided a much-needed spark off the bench.
Klambauer had 12 points in a reserve role, knocking down four 3-pointers as the Royals never trailed in a 58-47 win over Paw Paw in the first semifinal Thursday night in the Little Ten Tournament.
H-BR (19-3), the defending tournament champion, advances to the final of the tournament for the second straight season. The Royals will play indian Creek, which defeated Newark, 58-57, in Thursday’s second semifinal, at 8 p.m. today.
“I was open and I when I had a shot I took it,” Klambauer said. “I didn’t hesitate. We’ve got nine seniors and all of them play really well. It’s kind of nice to know we have people that can come in for us if we’re having a rough night.”
H-BR couldn’t have scripted a better start, running out to an 18-3 lead in the first quarter. The Royals’ press helped force five Paw Paw turnovers in the first quarter, leading to easy transition points on the other end.
“The first quarter was the best we’ve ever played,” H-BR coach Bill Sambrookes said. “Energy, passes, finishing.”
Foul trouble plagued H-BR in the second quarter, but the Royals maintained a double-digit lead thanks to their bench. Klambauer hit two big three-pointers in the second quarter as senior Jared Madden sat most of the quarter with two fouls.
H-BR went through a five-minute scoring drought in the third quarter, but managed to take a 13-point lead, 48-35, into the final eight-minute period after a three-pointer from Mitch Ruh and a put-back basket by Nick Gentry near the end of the quarter.
“[Gentry and Klambauer] had great games off the bench,” Sambrookes said. “[Andrew] had those four threes and made some nice plays defensively for us. Nick, as big as he is, changes shots in the lane when they get inside...and his minutes for Zach [Michels] were pretty good.”
The Royals featured a balanced attack as Michael Bayler chipped in 12 points and Mitch Ruh had 11, including three three-pointers. Michels also had five steals for H-BR.
H-BR, which defeated Indian Creek at home in Little Ten play early last month, will look to win consecutive tournament championships for the first time in school history tonight, something the Royals’ senior class has had on their mind.
“That’d be awesome. We talked about that in the locker room,” Klambauer said. “It’s something we’re looking forward to and something that would mean a lot to us.”