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For the first two quarters of his team’s battle with Hillcrest, it seemed like Tuesday’s homecoming might be a happy one for Crete-Monee coach Tom Cappel.
Then he watched his former team explode.
Hillcrest, down as many as seven points in the third quarter, used an 18-2 run over 2 minutes, 48 seconds late in the third to pull away for good in an 84-66 win in Country Club Hills.
Jovan Mooring (26 points, eight rebounds) scored six points and Devin Harrison (12 points, six rebounds) five during the surge that saw the Hawks (16-5) hit a pair of three-pointers and convert two three-point plays to take a 60-47 lead.
“We turned up our intensity a lot,” Mooring said. “The first half we were off balance. I knew I had to be a leader and if I picked it up, the team would follow.”
It was the first time Cappel coached at Hillcrest since leaving in 2007. He spent 23 years at the helm of the Hawks, going 504-146. The two teams met last season in Crete, with Hillcrest also prevailing.
“It didn’t feel different during the game,” he said. “But before the game, it definitely did, seeing all the people. I have a lot of good memories in this gym. This wasn’t one of them.”
Though Hillcrest coach Don Houston, formerly an assistant under Cappel, said the Hawks “put no emphasis” on Cappel’s return; Mooring said it provided motivation.
“It’s definitely kind of a rivalry game,” he said. “Whenever two coaches who coached the same school go head-to-head, it’s a big game.”
The Warriors (14-7), who received 18 points each from Mark Conner and Tyler Williams (12 rebounds), used a 9-0 run that included a pair of thunderous dunks from Conner and Laquon Treadwell (12 points) to take a 35-30 halftime lead.
The Hawks, though, couldn’t be stopped in the second half, going 19-of-33 from the field.
Sophomores Taylor Adway (17 points, nine rebounds) and DeAngelo Isby (11 points) had big games for Hillcrest.