Posted On: 02/6/18 10:14 PM

Deflecting a twelfth round punch flurry took some committed Cane Ridge defense, but the Ravens managed to ride out of Hillwood High School victorious, 67-60.

MVP: Cane Ridge G Taeon Stewart

In a game where no Raven scored  over 13 points, Taeon Stewart soared late.  The senior nailed his fourth quarter shots.  Stewart tickled the net with an imperative closing time three pointer.  The lanky guards smooth release gave him eight fourth quarter points.

Play of the game: Jonathon Howard fastbreak

In the final minute Hillwood needed any kind of score to surpass the Ravens of Cane Ridge.  With the customary Raven ball pressure out high, Cane Ridge forcued a turnover.  Both Jonathon Howard and Juandale Chapman busted out of the backcourt.  At the last second an unselfish Howard provided Chapman with a crisp pass.  Chapman instantly kissed the glass, putting Cane Ridge ahead 63-60.  Hillwood would not score another point.

Best Offensive Performance: Mark Tillis

For the Hilltoppers the comeback came courtesy of two scorers: Mark Tillis and Auston Thomas.  The lefty underclassman Tillis splurged for 19 second half points.  In fact, Tillis did not score until he emerged from the halftime locker room and he still lead all scorers at the final horn.

Best Defensive Performance: Chantz Hillsman

The starting Cane Ridge guard pressured the basketball all night.  His commitment to guiding the ballhandler in to traps really helped disrupt the Hillwood offensive flow.

Best Guy Off the Bench: Deng Akok

The two teams really didn’t look for scoring from their bench.  Deng Akok’s energy, positioning and four points provided a little lift for Cane Ridge.

Best Intangibles: Chris Nix

It seemed the tallest man on the floor, Chris Nix (PrepHoopsTN #43) continuously made smart, unselfish decisions in tight spots.  Also, Nix often showed up in the right spots on the floor.  His offensive rebound in the fourth quarter provided Hillwood with both an emotional lift and critical points.

Best Under-the-Rader Performance: Jaylen Whittaker

Cane Ridge needed stops in the third quarter and they struggled to get any.  Still, somehow the 12 AAA favorites gripped the lead tightly in the decisive fourth quarter with stout perimeter defense.  Whittaker was key to this facet and consistently challenged the refs to determine if he was too handsy or just very touchy.

Best Underclassmen: Mark Tillis

Hillwood’s lefty was instrumental in the comeback attempt.  His assertive takes to the basket exploited Cane Ridge’s biggest soft spot…the paint.  The Ravens don’t have the size or defenders to deny or even deter if you can beat their exceptional defenders.  When Tillis did get into traffic good things happened for Hillwood.

Best Passer: Chris Nix

Rarely will a frontcourt player earn best passer, but Nix routinely set up streaking Toppers for easy buckets.

Best Coaching Decision/Strategy:

Cane Ridge Head Coach Marlin Simms had to shuffle Jonathon Howard in and out all night.  With his crafty substitutions he not only kept Howard from fouling our early he also inadvertently gave Cane Ridge a late-game sparkplug in the form of the senior leader.