CARROLLTON — Coming into the 2019-20 season, Hebron head boys basketball coach Eric Reil thought this year’s Hawks could be the program’s deepest team in 20 years. After rolling to a 66-36 blowout of visiting Plano West on Tuesday, during which the Hebron bench nearly outscored the Wolves’ starters, Reil might be on to something.
“I think we’re capable of going 12 deep and having kids on the floor that can all play,” Reil said.
Reil only deployed 11 in Tuesday’s win, but the level of play never dropped off on a night where the Hawks never trailed. They did so on the strength of a defense that slowed West’s offense to a turnover-riddled crawl early on, which generated a flurry of offense in transition for an early 15-6 lead following a layup off a turnover for senior Alex Williams, who chipped in 11 points off the bench.
“We’ve been working on our off-ball defense a lot. We took away gaps and we knew that [West senior Grant Pressly] was a really good shooter so we tried to contain his looks and tried to make him go to the hole,” Reil said. “Our off-ball defense was really good, though. We held them to 36 points, for Pete’s sake.”
The Wolves committed 20 turnovers in their second straight setback to begin the season, working through the departure of four-fifths of last season’s starting lineup — with Pressly being the lone holdover. The early results have been a work in progress, with West struggling to generate clean offense against a sound, aggressive Hebron defense.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re obviously not quite a Plano West team just yet, but they’ll get there,” said Anthony Morgan, West head coach. “We still did some good things tonight, but we’re lacking a lot of experience right now.”
As a team, the Wolves converted just nine shots from the field — only one fewer than Hebron senior Logan McLaughlin, who led all scorers with 21 points in the win. In addition to his usual array of quick-trigger 3-pointers, McLaughlin sent the gym into a frenzy in the closing moments of the first half after attacking the Wolves’ defense from the top of the key for a thunderous dunk that upped the Hebron lead to 33-16 at halftime.
“What I try to tell Logan is that people are going to try and pinch on him and he has to really get the ball kicked out, because we have shooters around him,” Reil said. “But it was similar to our playoff game against Byron Nelson where the ocean just split and he went up, and when you get that kind of play, that’s energy that everyone thrives off of. It was fantastic.”
The Hebron faithful were equally ecstatic anytime the ball found its way to 6-foot-7 senior Reese Smith, who came off the bench to drain four 3-pointers for 12 points — including back-to-back triples in the third quarter for a 44-27 advantage.
“[Smith] hasn’t been able to play the last three years because of concussions, but I know he can play,” Reil said. “He’s a bright spot for us … but no one in the area knows about Reese right now outside of us. I think people are going to realize how well he can shoot.”
Meanwhile, the Wolves were led by 11 points from junior Chase Ross — one of several players, alongside veterans like Pressly (seven points) and senior Oscar Ochoa (eight), stepping into elevated roles this season that Morgan anticipates they’ll grow into.
“I like where we are. I told them that there’s no pushing the panic button. The guys from last year aren’t coming back and they’ve got to be the ones who step up,” Morgan said.
The Wolves look to bounce back over three days in San Antonio at a tournament hosted by Northside ISD and North East ISD from Thursday-Saturday. Hebron, meanwhile, heads to Pasadena for the Texas Invitational.