FINAL POINT - Hadden, Hinze part of state-bound Bearcats’ versatility
     2013-03-07      By Terry Gaston - Contributing Columnist   
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Scottsbluff sophomore Jackson Hinze (No. 10) gets all ball from behind on Gering sophomore Joses Palomo's inside shot in the Twin Cities rivals' game Jan. 19 at the Gering High School gymnasium. 
That Scottsbluff sophomore Jackson Hinze and senior Michael Hadden teamed up to score a key basket in last week’s District B-6 boys’ basketball championship game for the Bearcats is not unusual.
That it was Hinze, the Bearcats’ assist leader, on the receiving end of a Hadden pass down inside, well, that was a little unusual.
The basket came when the Bearcats needed a game-tying situation against McCook in the third quarter, and Hinze’s lay-up knotted the score at 34-all with 2:33 left in the period.

“I somehow was able to get down to the block and they somehow lost me, and Mike got the ball and found me down there. It was a great pass,” said Hinze, whose basket – although followed by a pair of McCook scores – set up 3-pointers by junior Tyler Mickey and himself, giving the Bearcats a 40-39 lead after three quarters.

“McCook runs that switching man,” Hadden said of his view of the unfolding situation, “we got them crossed up on their switches, and I was able to find Jack down low and he made the layup.”

Added Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske: “It was a big shot, good pass by Michael and the help stepped up, and Jackson put it in.”
Then, when Scottsbluff needed another tying situation, Hadden not only connected off a missed 3-pointer by senior Taylor Winkler – knotting the score at 46 with 3:25 remaining in the game – but on the Bearcats’ next possession, Hadden was on the backside waiting to see if senior Eric Moreno’s trey was going to fall.

When Moreno’s shot missed, Hadden put the shot back up and put the Bearcats the lead for good at 48-46 with 2:49 left. Moreno, however, atoned by giving Scottsbluff a 51-46 lead on a 3-pointer with 1:37 remaining.

“I was just battling down on the low post and the ball came right to me, and I was able to put it up and put it in,” said Hadden, who scored 16 points and made 10 rebounds – three off teammates’ misses.
"He makes big plays down the stretch, and he's been doing it not just this year but for a long time for us," Siske said of Hadden.

"This is a good way for him and the rest of our seniors to finish their careers."
But the Bearcats still needed to seal the victory. McCook pulled to within three at 51-48 with 1:17 left to play. The Bison still needed to commit two fouls to force Scottsbluff to the free-throw line.

With 32.9 seconds left, Hinze was the recipient of McCook’s bonus-forcing foul. But his foul shot spun into the goal and rolled out.
A missed McCook 3-pointer with 11 seconds left gave the ball back to Scottsbluff, and Hinze was fouled again.

This time, however, his first shot went straight through. Although Hinze missed the second free throw, his first one was enough to clinch the Bearcats’ win and third straight district title.
And the coveted trip to state in Lincoln became reality, where Scottsbluff enters play Thursday night as the No. 1 seed.

Of Hinze’s effort in the district championship game, Siske said, “Jackson played great, made some shots and his defense was phenomenal. When he was playing the point, he did an awesome job of controlling the ball and running our offense.”

Hinze’s trip from deep reserve last year to starter, and eventual free-throw, state-clinching clinching shot came with a few bumps and bruises, especially at the expense of senior guard Matt Klein.
When this season started, even on the first day of practice, Hinze saw his role elevated to starter. Klein, who ran the Bearcats’ state championship drive from the point guard position, broke his hand during a drill in the first day of practice.

Last season, Hinze saw very limited playing time – like, we’re way ahead with 50 seconds left in the game so let’s clear the bench, that kind of limited time – but it was still great experience for a freshman to gain varsity court time he could.

So Hinze took the reins of point guard while Klein missed this season’s first eight games.

“It was tough because of Matt, because he is such a great leader,” Hinze said of learning his new role. “But he helped me through even though he wasn’t playing, he was coaching me during time-outs, and the other guys really helped out a lot, too. It’s just been a fun experience and I’m really going to miss these seniors.”

These seniors thus far have achieved a great deal, on and off the basketball court. Many of them, including Klein – and in a limited role, Hinze – contributed to a perfect regular season for the Bearcats’ football team in the fall that won Scottsbluff’s third consecutive district title.

One player involved in the first two of those football district championships was Hadden. And he was a key element on both offense and defense as a junior.

However, on the day before practice was to start for his senior year in August, Hadden made the decision that may have led to much of his success on the basketball court, which has added up to team-leading averages of 18 points and 6.2 rebounds.

“Practice started Monday, and I went to Coach (Joe Benson) Sunday at around 4 in his office,” Hadden said. “It was last-minute and a really tough decision for me. And I really love playing with the guys, but at the same time I felt it was the right decision for me just to work on basketball and golf this fall.”

Hadden said he stayed plenty busy during the fall, including practicing with Scottsbluff assistant coach Lucas Albrecht on his shooting skills – efforts that led to his hitting a team-high 53.6 percent from the floor through districts.

“I was in the weight room three times a week and then I had shooting workouts with coach Albrecht in the gym, and then at the same time on the weekends I was going to Colorado and playing in golf tournaments on the weekend, so I stayed busy,” Hadden said.
Hadden said he never second-guessed his decision to forgo his senior season of football.

“Friday nights were different, being up in the stands but I’m still rooting on my guys, they’re my best friends. They took it well and the coaches were so supportive, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Neither is having a chance to earn a second straight Class B state championship this weekend in Lincoln.

“Hadden’s a great leader and a great player, on and off the court. He really steps up every game,” said Hinze, the Bearcats’ team leader in assists with 78 (3.0 per game). “It’s been an amazing year. I’ve had a lot of fun and I hope to win another one down in Lincoln.”

Added Hadden: “We put together a good run, we’re headed back to Lincoln, and that’s what we’re most excited about. We’re a resilient team, we’ve had our ups and downs and we’ve had some adversity, but we’ve always bounced back and we’ve played well.”

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