It was a year ago to the day that the Half Hollow Hills West boys basketball team last visited Kings Park. When Hills West’s Brent Bland hit a corner three-pointer to put his team up by 17 points with just under six minutes remaining in Friday night’s rematch, it looked as if the Colts would cruise toward the first step of erasing the bitter memories of last season’s playoff loss.
It didn’t wind up being as easy as it started, but Hills West held on for a 69-62 win in a Suffolk V boys basketball matchup between previously undefeated teams.
"We just wanted to get a stop down the stretch," Hills West guard Colby Jordan said. "We know these guys are good shooters and we needed to get a hand up. We also need to make free throws down the line, but it’s all correctable things we can fix."
Kings Park (4-1) hit five three-pointers after falling behind 58-41 and pulled to within 65-62 with 33 seconds remaining. Hills West missed the front end of three one-and-ones during the stretch.
"They’re a very competitive team and they’re never going to roll over," Hills West coach Steve Atkinson said. "We knew this would end up close."
Hills West (6-0) took control in the third quarter as Frank Wilson dominated inside. He scored 11 of his 15 points in the quarter.
"In the first I was open a little more, so when we got to the second half, our coaches told the guards to get the ball into the paint more, and as we did that, it helped us a lot," Wilson said.
Wilson, a transfer from Hills East, has fit in seamlessly with a team already loaded with talent. Entering the game, Hills West’s top four scorers were averaging between 16 and 17 points.
"It’s been great because I’ve played with these guys before high school," Wilson said. "We already had chemistry and did a lot of preseason work together and it’s just been great."
Said Atkinson, "It’s not just the scoring but adding [Frank’s] physical presence inside, his shot-blocking and rebounding. He’s a presence."
Jordan and Kendrick Wilson led Hills West with 17 points apiece and Bland added 14. Jack Garside led Kings Park with 14.
Getting the rematch with Kings Park out of the way was one step closer toward the Colts’ ultimate goal: a championship.
"We definitely talked about last year," Jordan said. "They’re one of our rivals. We had to beat them this year after how tough last year was."