Jake Toolson struggled with his shot Saturday night, and in the past, that meant almost certain defeat for the Highland boys basketball team.
But the Hawks continue to prove it’s no longer a one-man show, and now they have the McClintock Holiday Shootout title to prove it.
Bryce Farabee, Chip White and Austin Witherill took turns providing an alternate scoring punch and the team played well defensively throughout its 59-50 win over No. 5 Brophy in the tournament championship game at McClintock.
Highland is now 12-3 on the season and has won nine in a row.
“In the locker room I told Jake, ‘We don’t need you to do it all. We just need you to do a little bit,’” Highland coach Derrick Donaldson said. “‘Everyone else has got your back. We’re going to play together and we’re going to trust each other.’”
Toolson finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three steals but only shot 3-of-15 from the field. Witherill took the reins in the first half with eight points, while Farabee had 11 and White added eight after intermission.
Toolson had only 10 points until hitting seven free throws in the final minute, but Highland led for most of the contest.
Isaiah Washington helped clinch the win with three consecutive steals in the fourth quarter which stretched a four-point lead to ten. Brophy cut the deficit to 52-50 on a pair of free throws by Tim Kempton with 44.6 seconds left, but missed a pair of game-tying 3-pointers with half a minute to go.
Kempton finished with a game-high 20 points.
The Broncos were the defending tournament champions and had a record of 14-1 heading into the contest.
The Hawks trailed 41-38 with 6:48 remaining but went on a 13-0 run to take control.
“They’d had our number the past couple years and we hadn’t beaten them in awhile,” Toolson said. “They were back-to-back champions of this tournament, and we had that in the back of our minds. It kind of felt like this was their tournament, so it was nice to take it over.”
Highland just missed the playoffs last season and is now trying to join the conversation of state title contenders in a parity-filled year. The Hawks haven’t lost since falling to Dobson on Nov. 30.
“Since that loss we’ve really stepped up as a team,” Farabee said. “I can feel us meshing better.”