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All night long he’d been operating seemingly at hyper-speed. By this time he looked a little tired, actually.
But Hillcrest senior Jovan Mooring’s work wasn’t done when Richards drew within 10 points yet again via a Josh Meier slam dunk with five minutes remaining in their South Suburban crossover battle Friday in Country Club Hills.
So he took a pass from teammate Devin Harrison and swished a three-pointer. Shortly after, he grabbed a Richards miss, fired up his engine one more time, and drove the length of the court for a layup.
OK. Now his work was done.
“I was gassed, but I play through as much as I can,” a smiling Mooring said after leading the Hawks to a 75-51 victory that kept them unbeaten and atop the Blue division.
Mooring, on 12-for-20 shooting, scored 32 points and added seven rebounds as Hillcrest improved to 12-5, 7-0. Kyle Oden added 14 points for the winners.
Richards (7-7, 3-4) was paced by Cortez Thomas (15 points, 8 rebounds) and Meier (10 points, 11 rebounds).
“We wanted to come out and make a statement,” Mooring said. “They had just knocked off Lemont, which had knocked us off last year. I just let the points come to me.”
They came fast and furious, 15 during the first six minutes of the first quarter, after which Hawks coach Don Houston summoned him to the bench. Hillcrest led 26-17 at the break.
Richards made its best surge at the start of the second period, Richard Ducan and Harper going back-to-back with threes to start a 12-2 run and take the lead. It was tied 33-33 with a minute remaining in the half when the Hawks turned three final possessions into five points.
The Bulldogs got as close as three points early in the third period and continued to stay within striking distance. But missing their first eight free throws and going through an 11-possession drought would prove costly.
“We switched it up a little bit. We used about three or four different defenses,” Houston said. “But Richards is well-coached and they pretty much know a lot of the things we do. They do move the ball well, so we had to switch it up so they couldn’t get in a comfort zone.”