“We knew it was going to be a tough one with it being a playoff game,” Hug coach Charles Walker said. “Coach Ballinger always has his players up and ready to play. We knew we had to come out and be focused and we did that. We got a lot from our defense and then we got out on the fast break. We look for those every game we play.”
The game got off to a slow start as Manogue worked its way to a 5-3 lead halfway through the first quarter. The short-lived lead would be the only one of the night for the Miners. From that point, the Hawks kicked their game into overdrive and left the Miners in their rearview mirror, stringing together three large runs over the next quarter and a half to take complete control of the game.
Hug closed out the first quarter with a 14-4 burst that pushed it ahead 17-9. The Hawks then opened the second on a 10-3 burst that included a pair of deep triples from senior guard Jhalil Roscom, spreading the advantage to 27-12 with 4:43 left until halftime. After Manogue’s DaKarai White dropped in a putback, the hosts ended the first half with a 9-2 spurt that was capped by center Sam Williams kissing a shot off the glass at the buzzer, expanding the Hawks’ lead to 20 points with the scoreboard reading 36-16.
The Miners were never able to get back in the game.
“That second quarter was huge,” Manogue coach Bill Ballinger said. “I just felt like they were far more ready than my kids were for that stage. Some of our guys were playing tentative. It was as if we weren’t quite there tonight. I’m not taking anything away from Hug. They’re a very good basketball team. That second quarter, they certainly had it all over us.”
Manogue tried to climb back in the third quarter, but the deficit was too large. A 9-4 run to start the second half brought the score to 40-25 and pulled the Miners within 15 with 5:11 left on the quarter, but that was the closest the visitors would get the rest of the game.
The Hawks used eight points from senior point guard Andrew Johnson to outscore Manogue 12-8 through the remainder of the third, leaving Hug up 52-33 with the final quarter to play.
The Miners cut the deficit to 57-41 with 5:53 left on the clock, but a 12-4 run from the Hawks left the scoreboard at 69-45 and ended any thoughts by the Miners of a miraculous comeback.
“I just felt like when we got down in some of the guys’ minds it was a little bit insurmountable,” Ballinger said. “They didn’t give up, but you don’t dig a hole like that against a club like Hug and expect to come back. It may be possible, but it’s not probable.”
Johnson led the way for the Hawks with a game-high 22 points. Junior forward Felix Cox contributed with 14 points, while Roscom added 11. Hug shot 30-of-63 (47.6 percent) on the night. The Hawks had 10 turnovers on the night while forcing 18 by the Miners.
Manogue was led by sophomore guard Remy Dillard with 14 points in the losing effort. Senior forward Bryce Hallam and White chipped in with 12 points and 11 points, respectively. The Miners went 19-of-58 (32.8 percent) from the field. Manogue out-rebounded Hug 36-27.
Hug now moves onto to the semifinals of the Northern 4A regionals where it will face Reno on Friday. During the regular season the Hawks split with the Huskies, taking the first contest at home 80-57 and dropping the second at Reno 53-45. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. with the game being hosted at Spanish Springs High School. For the Hawks to move on to the championship round, Walker said his team will need to play heads-up basketball.
“We have to play smart. We have to learn how the game is being called and adjust from that,” he said. “We can’t just play the same way. We have to figure out what is working on the offensive end and be smarter and make the adjustments.”