MIDLOTHIAN — The good news: Highland Park has reached the fourth round of the boys basketball playoffs in four of the past five years. The bad news: HP hasn’t reached the fifth round in any of those seasons.
That streak continued on Tuesday, when the Scots fell to Kimball 57-48 in a Class 5A Region II semifinal. Their season ended in the same round when they lost to Lancaster a year ago, and to Sulphur Springs the year before that.
“That’s a credit to our region. There’s so many good teams,” said HP head coach David Piehler. “We’re going to keep knocking and hopefully break down the door.”
HP registered its second lowest-scoring game of the season, struggling against an aggressive Kimball defense that had a size and quickness advantage.
The Scots (22-5) committed 23 turnovers, fell behind 7-0 at the outset, and didn’t score a field goal until a layup by Preston Taylor in the final minute of the first quarter.
“When you get that type of pressure, that’s going to happen,” Piehler said of his team’s miscues. “We could not run a set play. They took us out of everything.”
Still, HP remained almost on even terms throughout the first half, and eventually took a 23-22 lead on a Michael Egenes layup with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter. The Knights (21-10) went more than five minutes without hitting a shot immediately after halftime.
However, Kimball responded with seven straight points to assume control for good. When Chauncey Gibson connected on a 3-pointer with 6:02 left, it pushed the margin to double digits.
Jack Pease paced the Scots with 12 points, while Rhodes Crow added nine on a trio of 3-pointers. Luke Hardenburg grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
HP battled after halftime despite the absence of starting forward Worthey Wiles, who injured his knee in the second quarter and was unable to return down the stretch.
While the Scots neutralized Kimball’s guards, they couldn’t slow down 6-foot-6 junior Kyron Henderson, who led the Knights with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
The defeat marked the final game in an HP uniform for Wiles, Pease, Egenes and Mitchell Carew. They led the Scots on an 18-game winning streak that covered more than two months before being snapped on Tuesday.
“I’m disappointed more people didn’t get to see them play,” Piehler said. “They’re just as good off the court, too.”