Hills and Knolls Face Off In An Epic Showdown: Replaying an Annual Rivalry

Hundreds of spectators flocked to the Morris Hills gymnasium to watch the annual Hills-Knolls varsity basketball game this past season.  It followed a close junior varsity game that built large amounts of excitement and hype for the upcoming match.

The game started with an announcement by Mrs. Rome, introducing the starting players for both teams, welcoming Nadia Cameron to sing the national anthem, and announcing coaches and referees. Andre Moreno, Steven Matthews, Garret Ciccia, Brian Reynoso, and Gabe Manlangit started the game for Morris Hills. Coach Andrew McClay paced the sidelines encouraging his players and shouting words of advice.

And they were off. The tipoff was taken by Gabe Manlangit for Hills playing against #21 on Knolls. Although Knolls won this encounter, Hills soon gained possession when the ball went out on the other team. Substantial passes between Reynoso, Moreno, and Matthews on the opposite court showed Hills’ strong coordination and teamwork. The game started off relatively slowly – even at 5:44 on the clock, the score was still tied at 0 to 0. The first points were scored with a layup by Manlangit. Hills continued to catch rebounds from shots that Knolls attempted, advancing the game.

However, Morris Knolls did not sit by idly; they made themselves formidable adversaries on the court. Consistent aggression from both MH’s offense and defense resulted in MK getting foul shots, several of which resulted in points. The cutthroat competition continued, with both sides gaining possession of the ball for only a few seconds at a time. An assist from Moreno to Varma resulted in flawless execution of a layup, raising the score to 6 to 4 (MH lead). At the last second of the quarter, MK brought the score to 6 to 6, with more points from foul shots. The first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game, extremely aggressive with tight competition from both sides.

The second quarter began with 6 well-deserved points for both MH and MK. Morris Hills soon abandoned zone defense tactics in favor of man-on-man defense, which is typically utilized in situations with close competition, where every pass matters. A few fouls later, Hills repossessed the ball and a solid swish marked the first three pointer of the game, scored by Steven Matthews. Hills was still in the lead, with a score of 11 to 8. Knolls scored mostly from foul shots. MH sported a great offensive team who were constantly on the other end of the court. Knolls scored a three-pointer to get a MK lead for the first time in the night. The three-pointer trend continued as MK scored another and was ahead with 16 points to Hills’ 13. Manlangit took back the lead with two close set layups. The second quarter ended with a completely unexpected buzzer beater by Matthews with only 3 seconds left on the clock. Hills regained their lead, with much cheering from the Hills student section and other supporters.

At halftime, both teams met with their coaches and refreshed themselves with water while the winter cheerleaders entertained the crowd.

The third quarter started off with high energy from both teams and huge hype from the crowd. A layup made by Manlangit followed with quick recovery from Matthews to continue MH’s lead. This quarter moved much faster than the previous two, with rising aggressive fast breaks from both teams. The crowd started to see man-on-man defense and full court press; Hills scored free throw after free throw. Manlangit made several good blocks and passes to McCaffrey. Garret Ciccia scored a three point shot for a MH lead of 32 to 24 at mid quarter. Shots from players from both teams brought the score up to 34 to 26. Sophomore David Katell made a layup to bring the score to 38 to 26, with MH still leading at the end of the third quarter.

To start the fourth and final quarter, Manlangit scored a layup. At 6:30 on the clock, the score was 40 to 29, with MH leading and high defense from both teams. As the game would soon end, both teams brought a lot of intensity and aggression to the court. Knolls started ramping up the competition by making more of their free throws, bringing the score to 40 to 34, and then 40 to 36. The extremely close score created a lot of tension, and both Hills and Knolls crowds were cheering and booing, trying to rile each other up. With 5 minutes left on the clock, MH brought back zone defense tactics from previous quarters, and Moreno and Matthews added more points to the scoreboard. A three-pointer brought the score up to 43 to 40. Both teams took a timeout to get water and strategize for the last crucial minutes.

Even with enormous pressure on defense, the players were able to score, both teams fighting mercilessly to take home the victory. At 1:39 on the clock, the score was 48 to 42. Varma, McCaffrey, and Matthews were all able to make foul shots, gaining points even as the other team committed several fouls as they attempted to regain control of the court. MH players were able to bring the final score up to 54 to 47. When asked about the game, senior Brett McCaffrey said “I felt like we played very well as a team. The crowd definitely gave us a big boost last night and it was an amazing experience to be a part of.” Dre Moreno expressed his sentiment about the upcoming season with “MoBlock, ya heard?”