HILLSBORO — Highland Park played state-ranked Killeen Shoemaker fairly even for most of Friday’s Class 6A Region II area round playoff game.
Then there was the opening four minutes, during which the Wolves surged ahead and never relinquished the lead, eventually grinding out a 54-40 win that ended HP’s season.
The Scots (23-10) started fast and led almost throughout their bi-district victory over Irving MacArthur, but Shoemaker used its athleticism to force HP to play from behind.
The Scots didn’t make a field goal until a 3-pointer from the corner by Stefon Jauregui midway through the first quarter. By that time, the Wolves (33-2) had an 8-0 lead thanks to a combination of sharp perimeter shooting and aggressive defense.
“They took us out of our comfort zone. It was hard to initiate our offense,” said HP head coach David Piehler. “I like how we responded. We didn’t get rattled.”
HP remained within striking distance throughout the night, yet never seriously threatened. The Scots only briefly knocked the deficit below double digits, when a Pete Davis 3-pointer made the score 39-31 with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
Shoemaker didn’t led HP get any closer. The Wolves held a 31-17 advantage in rebounds and a 14-0 edge in bench points.
Davis and Jauregui combined for 29 of the 40 points for the Scots. Davis led the way with a game-high 17, while Jauregui scored 10 of his 12 before halftime.
The Wolves extended their winning streak to 13 games, a span during which they haven’t allowed more than 50 points in any game. They will face Rowlett next week in the regional quarterfinals.
Antoine James paced a balanced attack for Shoemaker with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Nobody else reached double figures.
The loss marked the final game for 12 HP seniors, including four of the five starters. Piehler said he’s proud of his team’s tenacity at the 6A level after missing the playoffs a year ago.
“I don’t think anybody expected us to do a whole lot this year except for the guys in that locker room,” Piehler said. “We’ve got a lot to be proud of.”