COUNTRY CLUB HILLS | The defense was there for Homewood-Flossmoor on Saturday.
Holding Hillcrest to 52 points is an accomplishment.
Scoring 43 points against the Hawks is not.
Offense was the Achilles’ heel of the Vikings in their 52-43 loss to the Hawks in the high noon neighborhood showdown, postponed a week by a snowstorm.
Aside from Tai Odiase, whose 24-point, 10-rebound performance led the way, H-F’s attack was paltry.
Odiase was 9-of-17 from the floor, his teammates 3-of-36.
Hillcrest’s swarming defense, featuring bodies in the right place and hands in the face, had something to do with H-F dropping to 11-8.
“We just didn’t execute versus their defense,” Vikings coach Jim McLaughlin said. “Xs and Os are important. Tai was great, but we couldn’t connect the dots.”
Because of the schedule change, Hillcrest (15-6) had one advantage. The Hawks didn’t play Friday night, while H-F did, scoring a hard-won 43-40 victory at Lockport.
They were back on a road court 17 hours later.
“We knew we’d have to run them, because they’d be tired,” Hillcrest’s Taylor Adway said.
So Hillcrest ran, but H-F’s 2-3 zone, implemented early, led to a see-saw scrap with 14 lead-changes and nine ties in the first half, even though Adway, a 6-foot-8 force, was one of two Hawks to pick up three fouls in the first half.
He would be one of three to foul out in a contest that was never out of control, but where officials called seven offensive fouls in the second half.
The big difference came before and after the break. Two free throws by DeAngelo Isby (14 points) gave Hillcrest a 25-25 lead entering the half. Allen Jones’ 3-pointer boosted it to four points 19 seconds into the third quarter. Jones (13 points) added a basket from close range about a minute later.
Subsequently, Jones’ second 3-pointer of the quarter gave Hillcrest a 37-31 lead. H-F played catch-up after that, but with only Odiase hitting, the Hawks would not be caught.
“Since Christmas, we’ve played extremely well in the third quarter,” Hillcrest coach Don Houston said. “The best part about it was our players did what we asked them to do.
"Earlier in the season, we would have cracked. Guys would have done their own thing. They’re making great decisions in situations like that.”