Sooner or later, Hillside coach Thurman Jordan thought, his Hornets were going to get it right in overtime.
Four days after losing an overtime game to Southeast Raleigh at the Hornets Nest, Hillside executed a Four Corners almost perfectly to come from behind and upset No. 5-ranked East Chapel Hill, 66-58 at home Thursday in overtime.
Thursday’s conference win was the fourth in seven games for Hillside (4-16, 2-5 PAC-6) after starting the season with 12 straight losses. It was preceded by a 71-35 victory by the No. 2-ranked Hillside girls (17-1, 8-0) over East Chapel Hill (8-8, 1-6).
Both games originally had been scheduled for Friday at Hillside but were moved to Thursday in a successful attempt to beat an approaching winter storm.
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“Winning both games was a nice way to go into the snow break,” Jordan said as student managers and volunteers hastened to clear the gym and close the school.
“We have lost just about every way possible,” he said. “We’ve been in almost every game, and we’ve keep fighting. Tonight it was a matter of executing our plan. That was the key down the stretch.”
Hillside trailed by as much as 46-36 midway through the fourth quarter and was still down 48-39 after a layup by East’s Chris Collins with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in regulation. But that would be the last field goal the Wildcats would make for the last 8:10 of play.
East tried and missed only one shot from the field after Collins’s basket, and it turned over five of its last 10 posssessions of the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Hillside scored on six of its last 10 possessions of regulation.
Hillside’s Xavier Young and Damon Sanders each knocked down a 3-pointer late in the fourth before Young forced a turnover and got the Hornets within 52-51 on a layup with 24 seconds remaining.
East’s Justin Tucker made the one of two free throws with 23 seconds left to make it 53-51, but Sanders sent the game into overtime with a layup in the closing seconds.
Hillside scored off the opening tap of OT, with Willis Allen hitting a runner 25 seconds into the 4-minute extra period. East scored a single free throw on its next five possessions, while Hillside went into a spread and hit 9 of its next 10 free throws to pull ahead 64-54 with 50 seconds remaining to play.
“It just came down to hitting our free throws,” Jordan said.
Ridge Ford hit 5 of 6 free throws in overtime and Willis Allen made 4 of 6 to finish with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Young led Hillside’s balanced scoring with 14 points, and Dontrey Byrd chipped in 10.
East Chapel Hill fell to 13-4, 4-3 with its third loss in five games, despite a game-high 19 points from Chris Collins.
Hornet girls win 16th straight
Hillside’s girls started a bit slow Thursday but had little trouble speeding past East Chapel Hill once they got up speed.
“No team likes to play without any practice. We had a short day yesterday, and everything was canceled, so we didn’t get to practice at all,” Hillside coach Ovester Grays said, noting the game had been moved up 24 hours. “But the same was true for East Chapel Hill. In the end, I was proud of how things turned out.”
Hillside had just a single field goal for the game’s first 4 minutes, but they broke the game open with a 23-5 run over a span of 8 minutes, 20 seconds. The Hornets led 29-7 after Jada Green laid in a fast-break layup with 2:18 left in the first half and went into the break with a 36-12 lead.
Elisia Grissett scored 10 points in the third quarter as Hillside stretched the lead to 51-23 after three quarters.
Hillside continued to pull away in the fourth quarter, taking its biggest lead at game’s end, to collect is 16th straight win since a 48-40 loss to Millbrook in the Hornets’ second game of the season.
Grissett led all scorers with 30 points, including an 8-for-10 performance at the free throw line. Kelbi Lewis hit three 3-pointers and added 11 points for Hillside.
Ali Cyr-Scully led East Chapel Hill with her 17 points and was the only Wildcat to score in double digits.