Sander Frustol scored all eight points from outside the paint Thursday night as the Ashby Arrows locked down the lane in the Comets 55-39 sprint. Hillcrest played intense defense, that led the Arrows to shoot 25% from the field as Hillcrest stepped back into black and white with their hoosier-like performance.
With Frustol locked in behind Ashby's zone defense to start the game, the Comets stepped outside the three-point line and set to work. quick passing around the perimeter led Comet posts to jump into open space. One-third of the Comets' assists came from their post players, as Hillcrest shooters set their feet around the perimeter to knock down big shots with passes from Hillcrest's big men.
15 of Hillcrest's 27 first half points were put on the board from behind the arc. The Comets shot 42% from three-point land on the night, and Gabe Preston was the main contributor.
Preston hit four three's to open the game, coming out of the locker-room to hit three more as he worked to pull the Ashby zone outside the of the lane to create passing and cutting routes for his teammates. Preston only missed two three-point attempts on the night, causing the Arrows to address Hillcrest's hot-handed shooter and leave other Comets open.
With Preston pulling the defense up, Senior Sam Ihrke found open spots on the court, contributing eight points from the field and earning three trips to the line where he rounded out his stat line at 12 points for the night.
With Ihrke pulling defenders back into the middle, Hillcrest kicked their up-and-coming Junior forward, Sander Frustol, outside the three-point line, opening lanes for Ihrke as Frustol set his feet and hit a pair of big shots. Frustol hit two threes on the night, making his way to the free throw line twice to mark up 8 total points in contributing to Hillcrest's win.
The Comets continued their lock-down defense, a monicker that they are gladly hearing repeated by coaches around the conference. The team spent the week honing their footwork in practice, which paid off in shutting down the Arrows early. Ashby struggled to recover from Hillcrest's smothering perimeter defense, turning the ball over 11 times in the first half as Hillcrest marched to a 27-14 lead at halftime. The Comets slowed a bit in the second half, where they stole the ball two times compared to eight in the first half. The Comets also allowed more second chance shots in the second half. After holding the Arrows to a single offensive rebound in the first half, Hillcrest faltered, allowing the Arrows to earned 8 second chance opportunities off their own shots, garnering an additional 25 points to put 39 points under Ashby's name when the final buzzer sounded.
“Our perimeter defenders put good pressure on the ball and did a great job of protecting the middle of the floor." Noted Comet Coach Gregg Preston. "Sam Ihrke played another outstanding all-around game. Jaden Norby and Scott Johnson led a physical and much-improved Arrow team by their physical play in the post.”
The Comets travel to Underwood next week as Hillcrest enters Christmas break. The 7:15pm game on Thursday night should be good match as Underwood looks to rebound from a well-fought loss to Battle Lake, and as Hillcrest enters the game with a diminished line-up due to students traveling home for the holidays.