It’s been an up and down season for Hillside, and on Tuesday night things were all the way up as the Hornets dominated visiting Northern 73-54.
Hillside jumped out to an early 17-9 lead in the first quarter thanks to the strong inside play of senior forward Deiontae Ray. Ray finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in the first half as the Hornets took a 39-24 lead into the locker room.
Northern mounted an early comeback with a 7-0 run to start the second half, but Hillside quickly answered with a 6-0 run of their own. Northern would never get within ten after that.
Following a string of six games decided by seven points or less and a two-game losing streak, Hillside head coach Thurman Jordan was happy that things were a little easier on Tuesday.
“We finally got some easier baskets,” said Jordan. “Hopefully it carries over.”
Ray finished with 23 points (18 in the paint) and 11 rebounds. The game plan was obvious from the start. Hillside wanted to utilize their size advantage with Ray, and he answered the call with a monster game.
“I talked to him yesterday about working the ball inside,” said Jordan. “We knew they were a small team so we wanted to take advantage of our inside presence and Deiontae stepped up and did a good job finishing around the basket.”
“I do what they asked for,” said Ray. “I put in the work and I’m up for it. It’s just time to turn up.”
Ray nearly brought the gym down in the fourth quarter with a monster dunk that even got his coach pumping his fist.
“It’s for the team. It gets the team pumped up for sure,” said Ray.
Along with Ray’s big night, Traylen Warren chipped in with 16 points.
Northern head coach Ronnie Russell knew that Hillside would try to pound the ball inside, and commended them for doing so.
“When you got a big man against what we got inside, you have to take advantage of that,” said Russell. “They did what they were supposed to do.”
Northern had their chances, but shot seven of 23 from beyond the arc and couldn’t capitalize on 19 Hillside turnovers.
“We couldn’t capitalize on a lot of things,” said Russell. “They played a lot harder than we did.”
Jalen Johnson led Northern in scoring with 11 points.
In the girls game, Hillside had no issues with the one-win Knights, easily defeating them 62-21.
This one was over after the first quarter as Hillside led 24-4 thanks to 13 turnovers committed by Northern. A combination of aggressive defense and active hands for Hillside forced Northern into 36 turnovers for the game.
“I was pleased with our first half,” said Hillside coach Ovester Grays. “Second half we weren’t as focussed due to the score and rotation.”
South Carolina commit Elisia Grissett led the Hornets with 17 points and seven rebounds. While she didn’t finish with an assist, her passing arsenal was on full display as well.