Boys Basketball: Hillcrest tops Lemont, claims South Suburban Blue title
By Michael O’Brien firstname.lastname@example.org February 22, 2013 9:20PM
Hillcrest's Jovan Mooring goes up for a shot against Lemont's Juozas Balciunas. | John Booz~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 25, 2013 6:31AM
Jovan Mooring emerged from the locker room Friday holding a big bag of ice and limping.
“It’s both calves,” Mooring said. “They have bothered me for a while, but they tightened up after that shot.”
Mooring didn’t have to explain. He scored 28 points in No. 5 Hillcrest’s 70-60 win over No. 7 Lemont in Country Club Hills, but the definitive basket was classic Mooring: It was an ill-advised shot, hurled from far beyond the three-point line. But the ball went through the basket, giving the Hawks a 10-point lead over their newest rival.
“I don’t listen to any criticism,” Mooring said. “I have to play how I play, be true to who I am. I’m a scorer. My first seven or eight shots didn’t go in (Friday) but I have to keep shooting. My team depends on me to score. I’m a scorer.”
Hillcrest coach Don Houston has accepted Mooring’s style.
“With a kid like that, when he gets rolling you have to let him do what he does best,” Houston said. “He’s a scorer.”
Mooring shot 10-of-23 in the game, scoring 13 points in the third quarter as the Hawks turned a 36-30 deficit into a 54-51 advantage.
The win gave Hillcrest (20-6, 13-0) a 25th consecutive conference championship, a streak that combines titles from the current South Suburban Blue and the old SICA Central.
Lemont played a brilliant first half, but wilted under the Hawks’ pressure in the second half, finishing with 19 turnovers in the game.
Guard Juozas Balciunas led the Indians (23-3, 11-2) with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
“(Balciunas) is a great player,” Mooring said. “I don’t really ever give out a lot of respect, but he has earned it.”
Hillcrest point guard Kyle Oden also played well, with 17 points and credit for forcing many of those Lemont turnovers.
“(Balciunas) is a great ballhandler,” Houston said. “So we tried to take away some of his strengths by forcing him to make some plays in the air.”
Hillcrest’s Taylor Adway, a 6-7 sophomore, continues to develop. He scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Hawks.
Martynas Einikis added 16 points and Mike Wisz scored 12 for the Indians.