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Back To Back Champs

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Hitchcock vs Ponder

The culmination of a long season. The Super Bowl of Texas high school basketball. The UIL State Boys 3A Basketball Championship saw defending state champion Hitchcock Bulldogs (32-3) taking on the Ponder Lions (36-6). Everyone believed that this would be a David versus Goliath matchup unless you were from Ponder. On paper, Hitchcock looked to have all of the advantages, but it seemed as though Ponder didn’t get the memo as they came out with a different plan in mind. From the opening tip, Ponder executed their Flex offense to perfection. Unsigned senior F Max Hutcherson was about as efficient as you could be in the first half. He went 5 for 6 from the field and 2 for 2 from the 3-point line for a total of 13 points, seeming as if he was always in the right place at the right time. Hitchcock seemed rattled. They couldn’t get their high-octane offense flowing as the Lions played a “one foot in the paint” type of defense, forcing the Bulldogs to shoot uncharacteristic perimeter jump shots. UNLV football commit G Damien McDaniel was the lone bright spot for Hitchcock. Even though he didn’t shoot well from the field, his energy and senior leadership were greatly noticed. Ponder would take a 31-21 lead into halftime with all of the momentum clearly on their side. 

Ponder would come out in the second half and get a quick layup. After another Hutcherson layup, the Lions would go up by 13 with 6:02 remaining in the third quarter. Coach Foster (Hitchcock) called a timeout and challenged his Bulldogs to play tougher and faster. In the next four minutes, they would go on an 11-0 run, with McDaniel scoring 8 of those points. Texas Tech football commit F Lloyd Jones III would get into the action as well, finally getting points in the paint and stepping up his effort on the defensive end. Going into the fourth quarter, it was a back-and-forth affair. Ponder just wouldn’t go anywhere and it seemed as if they would pull off the upset. Unsigned senior G Timber Crider fouling out was the key to a Bulldogs run. He had been so efficient running Coach Sullivan’s (Ponder) offense, that it just didn’t look the same when he was no longer in the game. Hitchcock went on a 6-0 run with Jones III and McDaniel leading the charge. Hitchcock would go on to defeat Ponder 53-49, securing back-to-back state titles, while McDaniel would secure back-to-back state tournament MVP.

Hitchcock was led by: Damien McDaniel with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals; Lloyd Jones III with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks

Ponder was led by: Max Hutcherson with 19 points, 6 rebounds; Timber Crider with 6 points, 5 assists

Article Written by: Robert Carroll 

[Ball So Hard, Lead Scout]

March 10th, 2024


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