Hillcrest comes from behind to win first district title since 2015


By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

WILLARD – Bringing a district championship home to Hillcrest is all Cole Griesemer ever wanted to do.

And the 6-foot-6 senior forward helped the fourth-seeded Hornets do just that Monday night in a 56-51 comeback victory over No. 2 Parkview in the Class 5 District 6 championship for their first district title since 2015.

“This is crazy,” Griesemer said. “This is all I’ve dreamed of growing up. I watched Hillcrest succeed all my life growing up and I knew in my four years, I was going to win something at one point.”

But things didn’t look too good at the start for Hillcrest as the Vikings raced out to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter before finishing it off with a 14-6 advantage.

Parkview managed to limit Griesemer to just two, first-half points in a track meet of a game, as fellow senior Amarre Clark picked up the slack with nine points in the half. Sophomore forward Elias Govan paced the Vikings with 10 points and two blocks for a 27-22 advantage heading into the locker room.

“I did not play good in the first half; I wasn’t myself,” Griesemer said. “Coach Fielding told me during a foul, he came up and he said I’ve been in the gym way too much lately. I’ve spent way too many hours, too many late nights… He’s like, ‘Don’t quit now. It’s a long season; the shot’s going to fall.’ Sure enough, I hit big shots down the stretch and that’s all that matters.”

That, he did, but it took a little while for the shots to fall for Griesemer in the second half. Parkview had extended its lead to 12 (36-24) on a dunk on a baseline drive by Govan about midway through the third quarter before Griesemer answered with his first points since the first quarter, pulling Hillcrest within 10 (36-26).

After a Govan free throw, the Hornets closed out the third quarter on a 9-2 run – seven of those points coming from Griesemer – and trailed just 39-35.

The Hornets continued to chip away at the Vikings’ lead in the fourth quarter. Two Hillcrest free throws sandwiched a 3-pointer by Parkview’s Tomas Hill (42-37 Vikings). But Griesemer showed he could do it on both ends of the floor. He blocked a Parkview shot and then hit a 3 from the baseline (42-40) as the Hornets pulled as close as they had been since Hill hit the first basket of the game.

It was back and forth over the next minute or so. The Vikings took a 46-42 lead on a runner in the lane by Hill, but Braxton Baker answered with a putback (46-44). The Hornets were called for back-to-back fouls, but Parkview was unable to capitalize, missing both free throws with about 4:30 remaining.

Hillcrest sophomore guard Ethan Weaver grabbed the rebound and found Clark who buried a 3 from the wing for the Hornets’ first lead of the game (47-46). Griesemer scored on a putback to extend Hillcrest’s lead, but the Vikings didn’t fold, hitting three free throws to tie it up again (49-49) with 2:12 to go.


A spin move in the lane by Hicks-Everhart put the Hornets up 51-49 and it was a free-throw-shooting contest the rest of the way. Hillcrest’s Clark made 1 of 2 and Parker hit both of his as Parkview pulled within one point (52-51).

Weaver went 2-for-2, even when Parkview tried to ice him by calling a time out. Hicks-Everhart then iced the victory by hitting both of his free throws to give Hillcrest the win and the title. The last time the Hornets won a district championship, they also were a four-seed.

“It’s crazy how things work like that,” said Hillcrest coach and alumnus Jordan Fielding. “We felt going in, we just didn’t beat Parkview and Glendale, and that’s why we fell in the four seed. But I felt like we were pretty hot going into districts, and I think it proved tonight that we got hot at the right time. That’s what it’s about in the postseason.”

And Fielding was confident in his team and his seniors.

“He came to play when it mattered most, and that’s what you want your best player to do,” Fielding said of Griesemer. “You want them to play their best when it matters most, and so I’m happy for him and for Brax. I’m happy for Amarre, happy for our school, happy for our whole team.

“We really just talked about getting stops because we knew that’s been our bread and butter all postseason, just continually getting stops. We knew if we did, eventually, shots would fall. We just try and preach to our guys, confidence. And I’m glad we came out on top.”

Having played for Fielding when Fielding was an assistant at Kickapoo, then serving as an assistant to Fielding at Hillcrest during Griesemer’s freshman year, nothing surprised first-year Parkview coach Jack Simpson on Monday night.

“I credit the Hillcrest boys,” said Simpson, who led Springfield Catholic to a Class 5 fourth-place finish last year. “Their seniors, I was lucky enough to be over there as an assistant coach when they were freshmen and they’re good kids, great kids that play hard and play the right way. They don’t quit, they’ve never quit in Fielding’s four years. They made plays down the stretch and they beat us. I thought we put ourselves in a great position, up 10 in the fourth quarter and they kept coming back, coming back, coming back and they finally got on top and they deserved to win, so credit to them.

“(We’re) proud of our kids, too. We started the year 0-5 and had every reason to quit, every reason to quit showing up. But they kept showing up and kept believing and we ended up winning seven games in a row to finish the year and it was a hard-fought battle. We had a chance to win and lost. So, that’s basketball.

Simpson joked that he was kicking himself for all the workouts he put Griesemer through as a freshman, when Simpson was at Hillcrest.

“He made plays (tonight) and he did the things you need to do to win,” Simpson said. “We struggled to get stops, and it goes like that sometimes. That’s the game of basketball; it’s a game of runs. This atmosphere was great, and that’s how a district championship high school basketball game should be. So, I’m proud of both teams and how we represent ourselves. Obviously, we’d like to be on the winning side of that, but that’s the game of basketball.”

Griesemer finished with 16 rebounds, unofficially.

Up next for the Hornets are the Jefferson City Jays on Friday at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar. The Jays were 69-65 winners over St. Francis Borgia in the District 5 championship.

“We played them one time during the summer, but everybody’s different since the summer now,” Griesemer said. “We’ve been taking it one game, just trying to focus, go 1-0 each day and that’s how we get to the final.”


Class 5 District 6 Championship

HILLCREST 6-16-13-21—56
PARKVIEW 14-13-12-12—51

HILLCREST (18-11) – Cole Griesemer 17, Tanner Hicks-Everhart 15, Amarre Clark 13, Ethan Weaver 4, Braxton Baker 4, Malachi Shull 3.
PARKVIEW (17-12) – Elias Govan 19, Jamile Johnson 1, Dassiah Green 3, Kevin Parker 10, TJ Hill 13, Carlitos Sanchez 5.

Up next: Class 5 Quarterfinals – Hillcrest vs. Jefferson City (22-7), 5:45 p.m., Friday, March 10 at Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar

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