Hennessey became the AREA CHAMPIONSHIP at the Stride Event Center last Friday night. It’s the #4 Hennessey Eagles vs the #7 Hooker Bulldogs. It’s the battle of HHS, it’s to decide who goes straight to State.
The Eagles had a highly contested matchup against Fairview in the regional championship last week, they hope not to repeat the anxiety they most likely gave every team person wearing blue in the arena. They started out tonight (March 3rd) losing the tip, and then Hooker would score on back-to-back possessions to jump to a quick lead. Layton would respond, but Hooker would quickly disregard any momentum the Eagles wanted to go their way hitting back, to back, to back buckets for an 11-2 lead.
On the contrary though, following a timeout the Eagles may be turning things around, with a Jael Torres put-back bucket and 2-2 from the line from Layton Choate; the Eagles were back in the game. A few minutes later, Layton would make an alley-oop and 1 layup, unfortunately missing the free throw.
The 2nd quarter started really similar to the first, the common trend being bad shots that don’t go in. The first points for the Eagles didn’t come until half the time had ticked down in the second off some Jael Torres free throws and then a Layton Choate layup. The score sat 16-12, hooker had the lead.
Another common trend is Layton Choate becoming a beast in the clutch. He hit back-to-back buckets for the Eagles with not much time to play, and the score sat 18-16. As the seconds expired, Hunter Weber hit a clutch 3 to give the Eagles the lead at the half. The score sat 19-18, Eagles lead.
Hooker started the 2nd half with an And-One layup, with a tacked-on a layup to give the bulldogs the early advantage. A transition bucket for the Eagles fell from the hands of James Sims though, and it was back to tied. James may be catching a bit of fire in this second because he then hit a three a few possessions later, but Hooker responded right back to tie it.
The basketball gods then decided to throw it into a back-and-forth slugfest, with both teams trading shot for shot to extend the score to an Eagles 30-28 lead. Hooker followed it up though with a 3 of their own, giving time a one-point lead with 1:40 left in the 3rd. The time would expire and another back and forth trade of buckets with set the score at 33-32, Bulldog lead.
The first shot of the 4th would fall in Hookers favor, but Layton would follow that up with 2 free throws of his own. Layton would then head to the line once again in which he would go 2-2. Then a Hunter Weber bucket would lead to a 3-point lead, but Hooker would almost immediately draw some fouls, only getting one to fall through. James would come out of a timeout and get a layup to fall to extend the lead to 4. Then, a deep three would fall for Jael Torres and they had their biggest lead of the game at 7.
When it rains, it pours, and in this case, the Bulldogs didn’t bring an umbrella. The lead for the Eagles grew to 11 points with just 2:00 for Hooker to turn it around. An And-One bucket for Jael would fall, and Hooker wasn’t going to be able to turn this one around in time. Despite their deep three attempts, they trailed by 11 with a minute to play. As the time ticked down and desperation 3s were chucked up, once again the inevitable became evitable. The Eagles won 54 to 45 over Hooker and advanced to state. Layton Choate, again the MVP, had 24 points and 8 assists. They move to 23-3 on the season and are the 4 seed in the upcoming state bracket. Story by Taylor Ladwig, Photos by Jack Quirk.