Boys basketball: Ben Hintzsche, Hinckley-Big Rock run past Genoa-Kingston

Hinckley - Big Rock's Ben Hintzsche looks for a break away past Genoa Kingston's Nathan Skarzynski on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 in Hinckley.

HINCKLEY – Genoa-Kingston basketball coach Griffin McNeal said he felt like his team’s zone defense would be effective in slowing down Hinckley-Big Rock on Thursday.

Even though the Cogs turned the ball over just once after the first quarter, they shot 34% from the floor and missed all 25 of their 3-point attempts, giving the Royals plenty of opportunities to run ahead of the zone in a 65-42 Royals’ win.

“It actually works pretty well, but you’ve got to make buckets to get into it,” McNeal said. “And we just gave them too many opportunities to get out and run.”

Ben Hintzsche scored a game-high 21 for the Royals (7-2) and added 10 rebounds in the win. He said holding the Cogs (4-4) to one shot per possession was a top priority. Genoa-Kingston finished with 14 offensive boards, but Hinckley-BIg Rock did finish the game with a 43-36 total edge in rebounds.

“We did a good job of limiting them with defensive rebounding, keeping them to one shot a possession,” Hintzsche said. “Then we just got out and pushed. It was good.”

Josh Bunting raced out and scored the first bucket off the opening top for the Cogs, but Tyler Smith answered with a 3 back at the other end, and the Royals never trailed again. The lead never slipped below 10 in the second half, and H-BR used a 16-4 run between the third and fourth quarters to ice the game.

HIntzsche had half the points on that run. G-K coach Seth Sanderson said the senior guard came into the season with high expectations and was down on himself. He was glad to see the performance he had Thursday.

“He finally was making a little contact, finally got that little smile where he’s like OK, he can breathe, it was a little easier and stuff,” Sanderson said. “It took a lot of weight off his shoulders having a game like this.”

Hintzsche said he felt like he’s got it going the last two games.

“I’ve just felt more comfortable, more easy flowing, knocking some shots down,” Hintzsche said.

Martin Ledbetter had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Royals, while Landon Roop had 17 points and seven rebounds while tasked with guarding Bunting, the Cogs’ top scorer.

Bunting did put up 16 and eight rebounds, but shot 6 of 19 from the floor. Hayden Hodgson scored 11 for the Cogs.

“I think our main emphasis coming into tonight was pushing the ball and taking care of it,” Hintzsche said. “Defensively, [Bunting], we knew he was a good player. We just wanted to shut him down, help where we could.”

McNeal said Hodgson and Traven Atterberry have both been battling illness and have missed school this week. Atterberry, a regular starter, had one point and three rebounds, not entering until the second quarter.

McNeal said the Cogs were just forcing less-than-ideal shots than working for better ones, and that led to the poor shooting night.

“I think we were settling a little bit and not taking very good shots,” McNeal said. “I thought we had a lot of opportunities to take it to the rack and get some better looks from the 3-point line instead of just settling. I think it’s a result of just bad shot selection ... and not getting rhythm 3s.”

Genoa Kingston's Traven Atterberry battles for the loose ball with Hinkley Big Rock's Martin Ledbetter on Thursday, Dec.8,2022 in Hinkley.