Boys basketball: Griffith, host Highland to play for tourney title
By Dennis Churilla Post-Tribune correspondent December 27, 2013 10:06PM
Griffith's Tremell Murphy drives the baseline for a shot over Hobart's Monte White at Highland High School on December 27, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 29, 2014 6:12AM
HIGHLAND — Four games in to the Highland Holiday Hoopfest, the crowd finally got a close one — at least for a half. After three blowouts of at least 30 points, host Highland turned a three-point halftime lead into a decisive 64-46 victory over Morton.
With Highland leading 23-20 at the half, the Trojans started the third quarter with a pair of baskets off backdoor cuts against Morton’s defense. Highland’s Addison Almeda then hit a 3-pointer off the bench and followed it with a driving layup.
It gave the Trojans the game’s first double-digit lead at 34-24. Almeda later hit a 3 to beat the third-quarter buzzer and the Highland lead was 44-31.
“He’s just a bulldog, a big sparkplug off the bench,” Highland coach Jordan Heckard said of the 5-foot-10 Almeda. “He’s always looking to get a bucket off a rebound or a turnover. His effort tonight was top-notch.”
Also top-notch was Highland’s Matt Benninghoff, who led the Trojans with 13 points. Playing point guard, the 6-0 Benninghoff hauled down 10 rebounds and handed out four assists.
“(Benninghoff) just works his tail off,” Heckard said. “He hasn’t played the point for us before this year and he’s working hard at learning his craft.”
Highland (4-4) placed three other scorers in double digits. Tommy Brankin also scored 13 points, while Almeda and Ben Wood each scored 10 points. Morton (1-5) got a game-high 18 points from Rayan Elabed, who connected on three 3-pointers and made 7-of-9 free throws.
With the win, Highland clinched a spot in Saturday night’s championship game. There they will face Griffith (5-1), which beat Hobart 68-32. The Panthers built a 16-4 first-quarter advantage and then held the Brickies to one point in the first six minutes of the second quarter to seal the deal.
Griffith’s Anthony Murphy scored eight of his game-high 12 points in the opening quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers. Tremell Murphy contributed 11 points to the win and Flint Powell added 10 points. Alec Parsanko led Hobart (2-4) with eight points.