COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If you see a Hilliard Bradley Jaguar and a grizzly bear in a fight, you better help the bear.
Putting together a dominant all-around showing and playing as tough as ever, Hilliard Bradley steamrolled Walnut Ridge in a rematch tonight, advancing to their second regional final in three years by way of a 59-32 win.
Despite there being a limited number of fans in the building due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Hilliard Bradley came out with a ton of energy, jumping out to a quick 8-0 lead following a three from Keaton Norris with 5:38 left in the first.
After the Jags built on this lead and headed into the second ahead 15-5, Walnut Ridge gave a bit of answer, trimming the lead to 15-10 with 6:20 to go in the half. Unfortunately for the Scots, this is as close as they got for the rest of the night.
Outscoring Walnut Ridge 15-7 for the rest of the half, Hilliard Bradley headed into the locker room ahead 30-17 at the break, playing with a ton of swagger, toughness and grit.
When you're trailing by double digits or more against Hilliard Bradley, it seems impossible to come back at times and that was exactly the case on Wednesday, as Walnut Ridge simply could not put a run together in the second half and missed out on some opportunities that you really have to convert on against a squad like Bradley.
After Scots' senior Qian Magwood was called for a technical foul with 53.7 seconds left in third, Matt Allocco knocked down both shots to extend the Hilliard Bradley lead to 41-25 and this seemed like the beginning of the end for Walnut Ridge.
Outscoring Walnut Ridge 18-2 for the next seven minutes, the Jags all but wrapped this one up as their starters checked out with 2:24 to go and got a big time roar from the crowd.
Leading Hilliard Bradley with 19 points, Norris was fantastic on the night as he put together a great two-way game, competing with elite toughness on both ends and knocking down some tough shots at an efficient rate,
Allocco also scored 14, while fellow backcourt mate AJ Mirgon chipped in 13 of his own.
Hilliard Bradley advances to their second regional final in three years, where they will take on the winner of Westerville Central versus Thomas Worthington, which will be played tomorrow.
If Thomas Worthington hangs on in that contest, it will mark the third time the Cards and Jags have met up this season, with Hilliard Bradley winning both regular season matchups. We saw this same scenario happen last season when Thomas Worthington took down the Jags in the district semifinals after dropping both regular season matchups.