WACO, Texas In a nail biter, the McLennan Highlanders fell to the Hill Rebels 83-76 tonight at The Highlands.
It was all Hill at the start as the Rebels built a nine-point lead at 13-4 with 14:29 to play in the first half. McLennan responded with a 14-0 run to take the 17-13 lead midway through the half. Hill took the 24-20 lead on a pair of Emmanuel Bandoumel free throws with five minutes remaining in the half. The Highlanders put together a 9-0 run, featuring the seven points from Willie Thomas, to go up by five 39-24. Hill rallied late to trim the lead to one at halftime, 33-32.
Hill opened the second half on an 11-1 run to build a nine-point lead at 43-34 but the Highlanders weren’t done. McLennan rallied to trim the lead to five but the Rebels pulled away once again. Hill led by 15, 61-46 with 9:48 remaining in the game. Once again the Highlanders stepped up and began to chip away at the Rebel lead. Hill led by 11, 69-58 with 6:33 to play. McLennan’s shooting from behind the 3-point arc fired up and a 9-0 run put the Highlanders within two, 69-67 with four minutes remaining. Hill extended the lead back to five, 74-69 with 2:42 to play. A pair of free throws by Xavier Armstead followed by back-to-back 3-pointers by Javen Hedgeman and Armstead put McLennan up by one with 1:51 to go, 75-74. A 3-pointer by Chris Murry and floater in the lane from Bandoumel gave Hill the four-point lead with 35.6 seconds on the clock. The Highlanders would pull within one on a Dayante McClellan free throw but were unable to get any closer.
Javen Hedgeman led the Highlanders with 15 points. Creighton Avery and Xavier Armstead added 12 and 11, respectively. Willie Thomas rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10.
In the early game, the Highlassies fell to the Lady Rebels 82-66.
Hill set the pace of the game opening on a 14-2 run to build the 12-point lead with 6:15 to play in the first quarter. McLennan scored just three points in the first five minutes of the game but found its rhythm late in the quarter. The Lady Rebels extended the lead to 15 but the Highlassies scored three points to end the period and cut the lead back to 12, 27-15. Both offenses slowed down in the second quarter. Hill led by as many as 20 in the period and held the 40-22 advantage at the break.
The Lady Rebels opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run to extend the lead to 23 but McLennan didn’t give up the fight. The Highlassies rattled off a 7-0 run and continued to chip away, cutting the lead to 11 at 49-38 with 3:42 to go in the third. Hill ended the period on a 12-3 run to extend the lead to 20 after three quarters of play, 61-41. McLennan battled in the fourth quarter. Down by 21 with just under six minutes remaining in the game, the Highlassies used 10-0 run to pull within 11. That would be as close as McLennan would get.
KeeKee Nowlin led the Highlassies with 21 points and Annya Moss added 14.
McLennan returns to action Monday, hosting rival Temple. Women’s action begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.