For the second straight year, the Heritage Hills boys basketball team stood head and shoulders above the rest in the 3-A sectionals in Boonville. But unlike last year the Patriots are actually moving on.
"It hurt us. It hurt us really bad," says Heritage Hills senior guard Logan Kryzkowski..
"Something we were upset about, but you couldn't do much about it," says Heritage Hills senior forward Blake Sisley.
"It was tough for us as a coaching staff," says Heritage Hills boys basketball head coach Nate Hawkins.
After years of coming up short in sectionals, the Heritage Hills Boys basketball team took home the title in 2020. However, before the celebration had settled down, Coronavirus cancelled they're rare ride to regionals.
"We were really looking forward to going up there and competing with them and hopefully coming out there with a regional title," says Kryzkowski. "We really felt like we were going to win it."
"To have to deliver the very disheartening news that we were done, and there was nothing we can do about it," says Hawkins.
So with 2020 reduced to no more than a faded memory of a lost opportunity, the Heritage Hills boys basketball team redoubled their efforts during the off-season to gain back what they'd lost, through no fault of their own and the get back to where they'd fought so hard to get to.
"It really lit a fire under us when we realized we couldn't go and to pursue our dream of finally bringing a regional title here," says Kryzkowski. "It got us a chip on our shoulder this year and that's been our motivation. To get over that hump and finally win a regional and bring it home."
"We were shut down for quite a while and didn't really get back," says Hawkins. "Usually we'd get back and do some stuff in June, but we weren't able to do anything then. We were able to have some open gyms in July and you could tell the determination with how hard the kids came in and worked."
Nearly unbeatable during the regular season, the 19-and-3 Patriots road on the impressive wing span of 6-8 senior Blake Sisley, who took his game to a whole new level averaging nearly 23 points and 8 rebounds per contest.
"I've worked on extending my game, just not being a post guy down low, stretching the floor a little bit, shooting 3's, driving, scoring that way," says Sisley. "The more ways you can score, the hard it is for teams to guard you."
"When he came in as a freshman, he was a kid who primarily played in the post for us," says Hawkins. "We occasionally tried to work him out on the perimeter a little bit, but that has evolved over this four year span. The biggest thing that I've been so proud of him for is ability to be able to catch then drive around guys and drive around guards and get to the rim. Finish."
But while there's no question that Blake Sisley is the man in the middle for the Patriots. He knows he's not a one-man gang.
"Getting back with the guys that I've grown up with," says Sisley. "There are six seniors on the team. Everyone contributes in a special way. Senior year, it being my last year, I'm just taking it all in and doing what I can to help the team."
"We are a very hard working team," says Krzkowski. "We get the ball into Blake so he can go make those moves and go score 40 points. We're also a very good shooting team. JT and Marcus, they've been lights out for us all year. They've been incredible shooters. And then our defense has really propelled us. We broke the record this year for defensive average, points per game per year."
And now this driven team will go up against one of the top teams in the state, Silver Creek Saturday morning at Washington's Hatchet House. A win there, and the Patriots will play that night for the 3-A regional title.
"It would be huge," says Sisley. "It would be the first in school history. Just to be a part of that would be amazing."