By TREY WILLIAMS
Daniel Boone’s basketball team blazed a new trail this past weekend and senior guard Chad Heglar reached a pleasing plateau.
Chris Brown’s Trailblazers won the program’s first Hardee’s Classic title Saturday with a 62-43 defeat of University High in the championship of the 29th annual tournament at David Crockett.
The long-armed 6-foot-4 Heglar seemed to effortlessly score 27 points on 11-of-13 field goal shooting in the championship game, wrapping up an easy decision for tournament Most Valuable Player. It capped a dominant three-game stretch during which he scored 95 points, including his 1,000th during a 51-point performance in a quarterfinal win against South-Doyle.
“We took care of the ball and played our style of basketball,” Heglar said.
Teammates Derek Percell, Jared Adkins and Judah Hilton joined Heglar on the all-tournament team.
Hilton and Percell scored eight and seven points, respectively, in the championship game.
Percell, a point guard, scored the game’s first two baskets. The second one was a crowd-pleasing scoop while driving across the lane.
Heglar doesn’t anticipate any decline at Boone during his final go-round despite the ‘Blazers losing four starters from the 2017-18 team – Eric “Doc” Rigsby and Jared Lawson among those. A number of new key contributors have impressed Heglar with their smooth transitions.
“Cade Norris has stepped up for us,” Heglar said. “And Chase (McGonigle) – they’ve both been playing defense for us. They’ve been starting (the season) good for us. And Marshall Golden has been playing good for us, too. We have scorers and we have depth this year.”
Brown was happy Zac Saul became available in the semifinals on Friday – a 58-50 win against Volunteer. It’d been feared that Saul could have a stress fracture in his back, which would’ve created a protracted absence.
“Zac Saul’s been out all year and he’s our energy guy,” Brown said. “He’s our guy that really makes us go. He really set the tone defensively getting up on guys. And we kind of feed off that. He’s not gonna score a lot of points for us, but he does so much for us, kind of like what Gunnar Norris did for us last year – that ‘glue guy’ that does so much.”
Saul had two assists, two points and an assist in the championship, played energetic defense and made a nifty bounce-pass to Heglar cutting along the baseline for a basket.
Heglar was 9-for-9 on two-point attempts, made 2 of 4 from behind the 3-point arc and led the team with 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“He’s a tough matchup,” University High coach Justin Penley said. “He’s a knock-down shooter from behind the arc. And Coach Brown gets him the ball in a lot of different ways.”
The Bucs’ Kaleb Meredith scored a team-high 14 points in the loss to Boone after pouring in a game-high 30 in UH’s 62-61 upset of David Crockett in the semifinals.
Boone played Volunteer in the semifinals immediately after Crockett’s loss, and appeared to be less inspired once realizing it wasn’t playing for an opportunity to take on the rival Pioneers in the championship.
“Yea, just a little bit,” Heglar said.
Boone will host Crockett on Friday, and the Hardee’s title should amplify a young team’s confidence.
“You’ve got Chad and Derek that really have any kind of varsity experience, and Derek doesn’t really have a lot,” Brown said. “So you’re looking at a bunch of JV guys that have been through our program and are now getting an opportunity to play. And for them to respond in this kind of environment, I thought, was big.”
The Pioneers’ Ayden Begley scored 14 of his 22 points, including four of his six 3-pointers, in the first quarter of a 76-39 win against Volunteer in the third-place game.
“Guys found him while he was hot,” Crockett coach John Good said. “When he was open they got him the ball. Every shot he shoots looks like it’s gonna go in.”
Mack Hensley hit two treys and scored 12 points and Donta Hackler’s fast-break dunk after a steal and assist from John Kollie highlighted a 10-point performance.
The Pioneers made 11 treys after severe shooting struggles in the one-point loss to University High on Friday.
“Tonight we were hitting shots and it just makes a big difference,” Good said.
Despite the lopsided margin, Good was impressed with what he saw from Volunteer, which is under first-year coach Mike Poe. Good coached at Science Hill under Poe, who started the Hardee’s Classic with then-Crockett athletic director Gary Scheuerman when Poe coached the Pioneers in 1990.
Crockett AD Josh Kite presented Poe with a basketball prior to the third-place game.
“The credit goes to the people here at Crockett,” said Poe, who coached the Pioneers to their first sectional appearance in 1990. “They’ve taken the ball and run with it. It’s a big thing and they’re to be congratulated. It was just an idea I’d had, but they’ve taken it to another level.”