Ahmed Hill was chased in transition, but he still scored. Defenders tried to block his sight of the hoop, but a turnaround fixed that.
The Aquinas star was heating up in the fourth quarter, and that was more than enough to get a win.
Hill scored 29 points at home to give the Fighting Irish a 58-49 win Saturday against Lakeview Academy in the first round of the Class A private state playoffs. Aquinas will be home Wednesday night for a state quarterfinal.
Hill scored 13 of his points in the fourth quarter, hoisting up his team to a lead as large as 14.
At one stretch, Hill drilled two 3-pointers in a row to close a run where he scored 10 of Aquinas’ first 12 points in the final quarter.
“You got Med, you got a lot,” Aquinas coach Bernie Norris said.
In getting half of his team’s points, Hill battled through foul trouble. He picked up his third with 5:37 left in the second quarter, but after Aquinas’ offense failed to score, he was brought back in with 3:43 remaining.
Teammate Michael Scott was also in some foul trouble, but his two free throws with 3:07 prior to halftime marked Aquinas’ first points in the quarter. They also gave Aquinas an 18-13 lead.
Lakeview Academy didn’t go away, however. Trevor Price was the leader in the first half, when he scored eight of his 14 points. Price provided tough defense to get back-to-back buckets after Irish turnovers.
In the last quarter, Joel Larsen and Austin Montgomery picked up the scoring load. The duo combined for 17 points in the period, but Aquinas always had an answer.
In the early stages of the fourth, the responses came from Hill’s shooting surge.
“I know my team was struggling, because I was struggling,” said Hill, who also had a powerful dunk in the game. “I just tried to find my shot.”
Later, with the Lions fouling after scores or missed 3-pointers, the Irish kept the lead theirs by making enough foul shots.
Aquinas made 23 free throws in the game – Shalom Alvarez scored all seven of his points at the line – to dwarf the Lions’ total of two.
That discrepancy at the foul line and Hill’s clutch shots sent Aquinas through to the next round.
“I just tried to focus,” Hill said. “Last year we made the Elite Eight. This year, I’m trying to go farther.”