Wildcats advance to quarterfinals

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WHITINGHAM >> Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13.

And the senior point guard who wears those unlucky digits on his jersey had his foes trembling on Wednesday night.

Justin Hicks anchored a defense that gave up zero makes from the perimeter and scored a dozen points to lead the No. 5 Twin Valley boys basketball team to a convincing 74-25 rout of 12th-seeded Peoples Academy in a Division 3 playdown game.

"I thought that our defense was really, really good. We were disciplined and we played good team defense," said Twin Valley coach Chris Brown. "And our transition was good at times."

The hosts got first-quarter steals from Brett Swanson, Kyle Murdock, Skyler Boyd, DJ Lazelle and Hicks, and opened up a 21-8 advantage. Murdock, Swanson and Baylee Crawford all buried one shot from behind the arc in the first eight minutes of action.

Twin Valley limited the Wolves to just one point in the second quarter, with the defensive standouts being Hicks (3 steals) and Boyd (2 blocks). Lazelle and Hicks each had a putback against the undersized Peoples team, while Crawford and Boyd both knocked down a 3.

The Wildcats continued to share the ball in the second half and wowed the crowd twice in the third quarter. Lazelle swatted a shot and threw a baseball pass the length of the court to Hicks, who finished smoothly at the other end. Lazelle later ripped down a defensive rebound and outletted to Hicks, who found Ethan Fox for a bunny.

"Our passing starts with Hicks. It's kind of contagious," noted Brown.

Murdock would complete a three-point play early in the fourth frame, before coach Brown called off the dogs and emptied his bench. In just over three quarters of play, Twin Valley's seven-man rotation gave up seven layups and zero makes from the perimeter.

Twin Valley's reserves would then outscore Peoples, 20-8, down the stretch. Sophomore Hayden Reed, who was making his varsity debut, drilled a pair of trifectas to lead the way. Jack Lyddy and Crawford also connected from long range, Dylan Howe dished out two assists, and Logan Park pulled down a couple of offensive rebounds.

The 16-5 Wildcats will play at No. 4 Hazen in Saturday's quarterfinal at 2 p.m.

Twin Valley scoring

Justin Hicks — 12 points, Brett Swanson 12 points, Baylee Crawford — 9 points, Kyle Murdock — 8 points, Ethan Fox — 8 points, DJ Lazelle — 7 points, Skyler Boyd — 7 points, Hayden Reed — 6 points, Jack Lyddy — 3 points, Logan Park — 2 points.


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