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Hillcrest's Jovan Mooring (right) goes up for a contested layup during Hillcrest's 70-60 win over Lemont Friday in Country Club Hills. l John Booz ~ Sun Times Media
Jovan Mooring emerged from the locker room Friday holding a big bag of ice and limping.
“It’s both calves,” Mooring said. “They have bothered me for awhile, but they tightened up after that shot.”
Mooring didn’t have to explain. He scored 28 points in Hillcrest’s 70-60 win over Lemont in Country Club Hills, but the definitive basket was classic Mooring: it was an ill-advised shot, hurled from far beyond the three-point line. But the shot went in, giving the Hawks a ten point lead over their newest rival.
“I don’t listen to any criticism,” Mooring said. “I have to play how I play, be true to who I am. I’m a scorer. My first seven or eight shots didn’t go in tonight but I have to keep shooting. My team depends on me to score. I’m a scorer.”
Hillcrest coach Don Houston has accepted Mooring’s style.
“With a kid like that when he gets rolling you have to let him do what he does best,” Houston said. “He’s a scorer.”
Mooring shot 10-for-23 in the game, scoring 13 points in the third quarter as the Hawks turned a 36-30 deficit into a 54-51 advantage.
The win gave No. 18 Hillcrest a 25th consecutive conference championship, a streak that combines titles from the current South Suburban Blue and the old SICA Central.
Lemont played a brilliant first half, but wilted under the Hawks pressure in the second half, finishing with 19 turnovers in the game.
Senior point guard Juozas Balciunas led the Indians (23-3, 11-2) with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
“[Balciunas] is a great player,” Mooring said. “I don’t really ever give out a lot of respect, but he has earned it.”
Hillcrest point guard Kyle Oden also played well, with 17 points and credit for forcing many of those Lemont turnovers.
“[Balciunas] is a great ball-handler,” Houston said. “So we tried to take away some of his strengths by forcing him to make some plays in the air.”
Taylor Adway, a 6-7 sophomore, continues to develop. He scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Hawks (20-6, 13-0).
Martynas Einikis added 16 points and Mike Wisz scored 12 for the Indians.