Brock Netter, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — Waverly’s Zeke Brown admitted after the game that Waverly felt a little snubbed by getting the No. 4 seed in Division II.
The Tigers wanted to make a bit of a statement heading into tournaments, and did so with a 60-49 victory on Saturday over Hillsboro — the No. 3 seeded team in Division II.
“It was all about proving that we should have been the higher ranked seed,” Brown said. “This was our first game since last Friday, so we came out and fought with the mentality that we were going to do whatever it took to get this win.”
Hillsboro (18-3) had a rough time keeping Trey Robertson in front of its defense, but to its credit, most teams have that same problem as well.
After a slow first half, Robertson found his shot and scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the second half to help create the separation needed for Waverly (17-3) to rack up its 12th straight victory.
“Not having played for over a week, I think our guys were gassed a little bit early, especially since we were short-handed,” Waverly coach Travis Robertson said. “But our defense did a great job containing Hillsboro in the first half. We finally got some shots to fall, Trey found his rhythm and guys fed off of that to make more plays.”
Brown and Hillsboro’s Ryan Scott each scored five points as both teams jockeyed for position early. Hillsboro took a 9-8 lead, but Gage Wheeler connected on a 3-point play that put Waverly ahead 11-9 after the first.
Then Brown and Phoenix Wolf led the charge on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 18-9. Although the Tigers’ offense stalled down the stretch, Hillsboro couldn’t capitalize as it had a tough time connecting on shots and trailed 21-15 at halftime.
“There were a lot of shots we normally make that we didn’t connect on,” Robertson said. “Neither team was making shots, but holding Hillsboro to just 15 points was a big deal. I knew we were going to be a little sluggish, and we were even more than I thought so we challenged our guys to play half-court defense and treat this like a tournament game since it had that type of feel.”
Robertson and Wheeler connected on 3’s, followed by a bucket from Wolf that extended the Tiger lead to double digits at 29-19.
Robertson buried two more 3’s and Brown added a basket as the Tigers outscored the Indians 16-10 and controlled a 37-25 lead after three.
Hillsboro attempted to make a rally, but for every shot it hit, Robertson and company had an answer as the deficit remained in double digits before the Tigers closed out the victory.
“Our guys did a great job getting through screens, pressuring the ball and communicating,” Travis Robertson said. “We made it tough for Hillsboro’s guards and we gave tremendous effort. It’s great to end the season with 12 straight wins, I like how we’ve been playing and now we hope to continue this momentum when tournaments start on Thursday.”
Following Robertson, Brown finished the game with 12 points and six rebounds, followed by 11 points and four rebounds from Wheeler.
For Hillsboro, Ryan Scott finished with 19 points while Hunter Price had 11 points and eight rebounds. Lawton Perry added 11 points and five rebounds.
Both teams return to the court on Thursday in a Division II sectional final to open tournament play. Waverly hosts Marietta, while Hillsboro welcomes Gallia Academy.
Hillsboro: 9-6-10-24 — 49
Waverly: 11-10-16-23 — 60
Hillsboro: 20-50 FG, 2-4 FT, 7-20 3pt., 29 rebounds (Price 8), 11 turnovers, 5 assists. Scoring: Scott 19, Price 11, Lawton Perry 11, Captain 3, Ethan Perry 3, Miller 2.
Waverly: 20-50 FG, 13-17 FT, 7-21 3pt., 28 rebounds (Wolf 8), 8 turnovers, 11 assists (Robertson 4). Scoring: Robertson 30, Brown 12, Wheeler 11, Wolf 7.