HILLSBORO, Texas The McLennan Highlanders traveled north on I-35 for a showdown with the 23rd-ranked Hill Rebels and return to Waco with a 70-66 victory. The win bounces the Highlanders back into the win column after back-to-back losses to nationally-ranked Ranger and Collin to begin conference play.
McLennan came out fired up, firing on all cylinders. The Highlanders opened the game on a 19-3 run highlighted by 3-pointers from Xavier Armstead, Mike Adewunmi and Garrett Shaw. McLennan held the 16-point lead with 12:46 to play in the first half. Hill finally found its rhythm on the offensive end and put together a 10-0 run over a three minute span to cut the Highlanders lead to six, 19-13. McLennan kept the Rebels at arm’s length but Hill continued to fight and trimmed the lead to one at 21-20. The Highlanders extended the lead to five at the break, 31-26.
The two teams continued to battle in the second half. McLennan led by five, 40-35, with 14:05 remaining in the game. A Xavier Armstead long ball followed by a Mike Adewunmi bucket would give the Highlanders their first double-digit lead of the second half, 45-35 with 13:28 on the clock. But it wasn’t smooth sailing for McLennan. Hill rallied again and pulled within one midway through the half, 45-44. The Highlanders continued to push end and went back up by 10 with five minutes to play, then extended the lead to 14 with 2:37 to go. Once again, the Rebels rallied but could only pull within four in the final seconds.
Xavier Armstead led McLennan with 15 points. Garrett Shaw and Dayante McClellan added 15 and 13, respectively.
In the early game the Highlassies fought hard but came up short, falling to the Lady Rebels 65-55.
Hill opened the game on a 5-0 run and never trailed in the contest, but McLennan was never out of the game. Kenidi White drained a 3-pointer from the corner off an inbound pass to put the Highlassies on the board with 7:33 to play in the first quarter. The Lady Rebels extended the lead back to five, 13-8, with just over two minutes to go in the quarter. McLennan cut the lead to three but Hill pulled away late in the period and led 19-13 after one quarter of play. Hill added to the lead in the second, leading 30-18 with 3:10 remaining in the half. The Highlassies used a 5-0 run to pull within seven but a Hill finished the quarter with four points to take the 34-23 advantage at the break.
McLennan came out with a renewed focus to start the third quarter. The Highlassies put together a 6-0 run to open the quarter and cut the led to five. McLennan would pull as close as four before Hill rallied again. The Lady Rebels led 52-40 going to the fourth and extended the lead to 14 early in the period. McLennan didn’t back down and rallied to pull within five, 60-55, with 56.5 seconds remaining but ran out of time to complete the comeback.
KeeKee Nowlin scored 14 points to lead the Highlassies.
McLennan has a weekend bye before turning to the court Monday at Temple. The women will tip off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.