Playing perhaps its most complete game of the season, Hillsboro's blew past host Father Ryan in Ryan Christmas Classic Thursday night.
The Burros (11-1) ran a precision offense and played lock-down defense and cruised to a 64-44 victory as they avenged a one-sided loss to the Irish in the opener of last year's tournament.
"Yes, I think that had to be our best game of the season,” coach Rodney Thweatt said. "We've played one-two good quarters in games most of the season, but we put together four good ones [Thursday] night. And our defense was outstanding.”
Micah Phillips and B.J. Fleming scored 12 each for Hillsboro and TSU signee Jamontae Davis added 12 points, which included a pair of monster slam dunks in the fourth quarter, giving him three for the game.
"Our emphasis was on containing [Irish guard] Jamonte Graham, and B.J. Fleming and Brian Wilson did a great job of shadowing him,” the 6-foot-8 Davis said. "And our other guys did a good job of getting out on their shooters. I think that was our best game.”
Graham who, like Davis, is a TSU signee, led all scorers with 15
points, but he had to work hard for every one of them. He scored two before the game started when he hit two free throws after Hillsboro got a technical foul for dunking during warmups.
But after Wilson hit two quick hoops for a 4-2 lead, Hillsboro surged ahead and never looked back. Two long 3-pointers by Juanya Smith gave the Burros a 14-7 first quarter lead.
Leading 29-20 at the half, Hillsboro opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run, highlighted by a Davis slam.
Next up for Hillsboro is a rematch in Friday's semis with Mt. Juliet, a team it handled easily earlier this month. The Bears beat Signal Mountain 55-47.
"They have a good team and are well coached,” Thweatt said. "I'm sure it'll be tougher this time.”
• Host Overton doubled its pleasure, winning two games on opening day as the Overton Christmas Tournament got under way Thursday.
In their first game, the Bobcats overcame an eight-point first quarter deficit and finally fought off scrappy Stratford 69-64. Senior Shaquille Davis rifled in two 3-pointers at the outset of the final quarter and capped a 25-point, 13-rebound game with a slam dunk in the closing seconds.
Davis scored 17 points in the second half, while guard Ivan ‘Drivin’ Alsup added 18 points and 11 assists. Tyquez Itiat led Stratford with 20.
Later in the day, the Bobcats trailed Harpeth by eight entering the final quarter, but outscored the Indians 16-5 to win 57-54 and advance to Friday's semis. Alsup led with 17 points and seven assists, and Davis had 11 points and seven rebounds for Overton (7-8) which has won three straight.
"I don't mind playing two in one day -- as long as we win them,” coach James McKee said.
• The M.L. King girls took the same route Overton's boys did, but the Royals had heart-stopping finishes in both wins.
Trailing virtually the entire game, MLK rallied to beat host Overton 59-58 Thursday morning on Jordan Majors’ rebound basket with six seconds left. Majors led all scorers with 20 points, seven in the final quarter, and Molly Kafader added 18. Tresi Patton led Overton with 19.
Later, MLK rallied from seven points down in the final minute to catch Lipscomb Academy, then won in overtime 58-57.
Alana Hudy bombed in 6-of-7 3-pointers and finished with 19 points as Lipscomb stopped University School of Nashville 62-51 in the day's first game.
Father Ryan closed fast for a 41-29 win over Summit as senior Kalyn Pruett hit three threes for nine points, all in the second half. Mary Francis Hoots led the Irish with 14.
• In other action: St. Rita of Chicago, handed Christ Presbyterian Academy its first loss, 78-64 in the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina.
Jalen Lindsey had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Lions (12-1).
• The host Battle Ground Academy's girls won their opener in the Wildcat Class as Caroline Abbott scored 19 and Sarah Puryear added 12 in a 49-21 romp over Glencliff.
• Franklin Road Academy's girls trounced Amelia Academy (Va.) 55-29 in the Bojangles.