Written by Jon Machota
Senior helps Hebron boys shoot past Cedar Hill, 58-37
Ridge Shipley felt like he was letting his teammates down when he picked up his third foul early in the second quarter Friday night.
Although the Hebron point guard was forced to sit for most of the quarter, there was no need for him to worry. Senior forward Drew Nelson carried the load, netting a game-high 20 points, leading Hebron to a Class 5A Region I area playoff victory over Cedar Hill, 58-37, at Southlake Carroll High School.
“He’s consistent,” Shipley said of Nelson, who has hit more than 80 3-pointers this season. “He’s rarely off. Drew’s not going to miss even when a hands in his face. It’s a blessing to have him on the team.”
The victory allows Hebron to advance past the second round for the first time since 2005 when it made it to the regional semifinals.
Hebron (23-10) raced out to a 15-6 lead and managed to remain ahead 19-16 at halftime behind eight points from Nelson. The 6-4 long-range specialist delivered the final dagger with three minutes remaining in the contest, burying his fourth 3-pointer and putting Cedar Hill (23-11) down 14.
“We hit some shots,” Hebron coach Mark Bishop said. “When we hit shots, we’re pretty good.”
According to Bishop, playing a tough district that included Flower Mound Marcus is what prepared his group for teams like Cedar Hill.
Size and speed aren’t strong points for Hebron, which doesn’t have a player on the roster taller than 6-5, so utilizing effective ball handling and accurate outside shooting has kept them in games against some very talented competition in District 8-5A.
Bishop says "kind of a wake-up call" arrived Feb. 7 in Hebron's second meeting with Marcus. Hebron fought to within four points late in the third quarter and battled to the end of a 63-54 defeat. Although it was a loss, it was also a confidence builder.
“They’re the No. 1 team in the state and a top 15 team in the nation. If we can play with them, we can play with everybody,” Shipley said. “They definitely helped us, especially with physical play, body-on-body on defense. They were just preparing us. And I thank them for doing that for us because that just helps us for games like [the one Friday night].”
With wins over Cedar Hill and Keller Central [58-43 in the first round], can Hebron officially say its playing its best basketball of the season?
“I would say we’re almost there,” Shipley said. “We’re definitely close to it. I’d say our next game is probably going to be our best basketball.”
Hebron faces the winner of Plano West and South Grand Prairie, who play Saturday night at American Airlines Center.