A coach can emphasize plays in practice until his face turns purple; it takes a player committing to the game plan to see the results on the court.
Hillsboro High School forward Harry Faber listened to head coach Darrell Knoll this past week in practice. With two games against Lyons in as many weeks, a change in Faber’s play had the most significant impact in the Trojans’ 41-29 victory Friday in Lyons.
Offensive rebounding and fronting post players were key points from practice and Faber did both tasks well. On the second possession of the game for Hillsboro, Faber cleaned up a Josh Wiebe miss by sprinting into the lane from the high post and timing his jump to grasp the ball between Lyons defenders. Although Faber did not pull down many boards himself, his active work on the glass made Lyons forwards look for him with shots in the air. It freed up Wiebe, who led Hillsboro with 6 rebounds.
“He’s always been a good slash man,” Knoll said of Faber slashing into the lane. “He’s always had a knack for going after offensive rebounds.”
Wiebe would have had more rebounds if he would not have fouled out with about 4 minutes remaining in the game. Wiebe picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in consecutive plays guarding Lyons active scoring forward Grady Kirkhard. Faber picked up some of the defensive slack by helping reserve Josh Davidson deny Kirkhard the ball by fronting. Much more than he had the previous week, Faber looked to block shots. While he only blocked one Lyons attempt, he changed other shots with the sacrifice of giving up a rebound or two on defense.
“Harry was just a lot more active,” Knoll said “He played a smart game defensively.”
Knoll believes Faber’s effort on the defensive end of the floor transferred to his offense. Faber was the Trojans second leading scorer with 9 points. In one difference from last week, Knoll said Faber played more in the framework of the offense.
“He didn’t shoot every time he was open,” Knoll said.
He had 6 points in the first half, all off midrange jump shots. He also picked up a critical 3-point play, with a layup and foul shot in the fourth quarter.
The leading scorer for Hillsboro was Shaq Thiessen who started the game scorching hot with 11 points in the first quarter, three corner triples and leaner in the lane. Thiessen’s shooting helped give Hillsboro a 10-3 lead early in the first and 15-9 advantage at the end of the period. Thiessen cooled considerably in the ensuing quarters to end the game with 16 points, but did have two layups and a free throw to ice the game for the Trojans in the fourth quarter.
Thiessen has played well on offense every game for Hillsboro this season. Like Faber, his most important contribution on Friday came on the defensive end. Thiessen held Ryan McClure to just 5 points on Friday. McClure scored 3 points on two trips to the charity stripe. His other basket came when Thiessen was helping on a back cut. On top of holding his man in check, Thiessen was active with help defense, securing 3 steals in the game.
“It was important to not let (McClure) score,” Knoll said. “When (Shaq) gets in a groove, he can really do it.”
The Trojans played a solid, all-around defensive game. Kirkhard only scored 5 points, speaking to solid post defense from Wiebe, Faber, and Davidson. While his man Matthew Vincent was Lyons leading scorer with 9 points, Evan Ollenburger led the team in steals with 4.
Knoll was also pleased with the way Hillsboro finished the game. Ollenburger came up empty on two trips to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. With that knowledge, Lyons purposefully fouled Ollenburger to try to make up a 30-21 difference. Ollenburger calmly knocked down both foul shots in the one-and-one situation.
“He went back to an old habit he had,” Knoll said of Ollenburger’s free-throw struggles. “Those last two looked really good, though.”
With Lyons closing in at 33-29, after James Jared hit 2-of-3 free throws, Thiessen hit one foul shot and Brett Weinbrenner hit both free throws to increase the lead to 36-29. With Lyons purposefully fouling, Weinbrenner nailed two more free throws to give Hillsboro a 9-point advantage.