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Jovan Mooring, Hillcrest’s leading scorer, did not play in the first half Friday night against Evergreen Park for what coach Don Houston called “a coaching decision.”
With the Hawks in danger of suffering a shocking defeat, though, it was Mooring’s clutch shooting that helped them escape.
Or maybe, at least according to Mooring, it was his theatrical skills.
With the game tied and the clock running out, Mooring went up for a long three-pointer and drew contact. He got the call.
“I sold it,” Mooring said. “Refs usually don’t call that at the end. It was good acting.”
Mooring hit all three free throws with three-tenths of a second left to lift visiting Hillcrest to a 58-55 win in a South Suburban crossover.
Delmon Brame paced Hillcrest (10-5, 5-0) with 18 points and six rebounds. Devin Harrison and Allen Jones each added 12.
Turron Clayton led Evergreen Park (3-11, 1-4) with 17 points and five rebounds. Morgan Murphy (7 rebounds) and Tony Weathersby each added 11 points.
Clayton’s three-pointer capped a 14-3 run and gave the Mustangs a 53-49 lead with 3:12 to go before Harrison answered with a trey.
Hillcrest forced turnovers on consecutive possessions and hit three free throws before Evergreen Park’s Harold Fairley (9 points) tied it with a layup with 23 seconds left.
Brame’s 10 second-quarter points led the Hawks to a 31-24 halftime lead after it was tied at 16 after one.
In addition to Mooring’s benching, point guard Kyle Oden sat the first quarter.
“I felt like I had to step up with those guys out,” Brame said. “It was like my coming out party.”
The Mustangs would not go away, though. Jacquet McClendon’s runner at the end of the third cut the lead to 42-39.
“I knew we’d play well because we rise to the occasion against top teams,” Evergreen Park coach Pat Flannigan said. “If we start playing like this every night, we can turn it around.”