The Kewpies’ victory on Saturday was, in many ways, a rarity.
For the first time this season, the Hickman boys’ basketball team won two in a row, beating visiting Branson 65-54.
“Oh man, it’s pretty sweet,” senior Patrick Phillips said with a sigh of relief.
The Kewpies also won Friday night when they squeaked out a 39-36 victory against Logan-Rogersville.
Saturday’s win was also Hickman’s first blowout victory of the season. The Kewpies led by as much as 18 with 3:03 left.
Phillips helped spark an impressive stretch at the beginning of the second half. A driving layup by Phillips, which resulted in a 3-point play, started the run. On the next possession, Phillips hit a 3-pointer and then stole the inbounds pass. He dished it to Michael Washington for an easy basket to give Hickman a 31-23 lead.
Phillips finished with 13 points for Hickman (7-15).
Hickman and Branson (12-10) were tied at 16 at the half, but the Kewpies’ run put them ahead 47-37 at the end of the third quarter.
“We realized we had a game to play, so we really stepped it up,” said Kewpies guard Taylor Florence.
Florence led Hickman with 23 points.
“Florence, Phillips, Washington and Perkins really played well for us tonight,” coach Jim Sutherland said. “That contingent did a great job of energizing the team. We haven’t had that kind of energy this year.”
Branson struggled with its shooting and wasn’t able to handle the Kewpies’ intense full-court pressure. It shot less than 30 percent from the field.
“We didn’t shoot quite as well as we normally do,” Branson coach Randy Bishop said. “Our shots just weren’t falling. They played a lot of tough presses and we weren’t ready for it. They’re a lot better than their record shows”
Sutherland also pointed to the press.
“We did a nice job in the press,” he said. “Put-backs and energy in the press were really good for us.”
Bishop was also complimentary of Hickman’s guards.
“Their two guards (Florence and Washington) were great,” Bishop said. “They were really quick and had a great handle on the ball.”
Washington finished with 10 points.
In a game full of positives for the Kewpies, Sutherland said he was also pleased with his team’s rebounding effort. Sutherland has been stressing the importance of rebounding in practices.
“Logan Harris and Cray Logan did a great job for us,” he said. “Patrick Phillips did as well. He does a great job pulling down rebounds for a 6-footer.”
Zach Morgan led the Pirates with 13 points and Derek Walster finished with 12.