Hillsborough loses to Bartow 68-65 in regional finals

The Terriers lost 68-65 to Bartow in the regional finals last night, evoking a strong emotional response in many of the players. The game marked coach Chris Ward’s last game, as he finished with a 129-47 in six seasons.

Hillsborough tried to regain the lead over the course of the last two minutes. Down 1 point with 15 seconds left in the game, the Terriers fouled Bartow junior Amarion Frazier, who made both free throws.

Down 3 points with 15 seconds left and the game on the line, senior Tyriq James dribbled down the court. He tried to create space for himself with a stepback but missed with under six seconds left. Senior Cantia Rahming got the rebound and passed it to sophomore Justin Anderson for a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. He missed the shot.

A hard obstacle to overcome in the game was playing without Cantia Rahming. He received his fourth foul before the half, and he missed the entire third quarter. “It was tough,” Ward said. “Having your best rebounder, best scorer, on the sideline for a whole quarter. He was over there because he was undisciplined. This game stings a lot.”

The seniors on the team expressed pride in their accomplishments even though they did not get as far as they would have liked.

“Doing something people thought we could not do feels amazing,” senior Howard Fleming said. “We made it this far, and I am glad. We made it this far together, not individually, [but] as a team.”

This season taught the team a lot of lessons to move forward with.

“The main thing I learned, is never take anything for granted,” junior Kevin John said. “In the beginning of the year, I did not expect to ever play. I never thought I would actually be here, supporting and playing for this team.”

The game served as a wakeup call, lighting a spark in the locker room. “It was an intense game,” freshman Ishaan Bhadouria said. “There was a lot of energy here and a lot to learn. I need to improve on my energy. I need to work a lot harder [and] we are not losing like this again.”

Even though the game was a tough loss, the younger players on the team want to use it as an opportunity to grow. “I won’t let this game define me,” Anderson said. “I just have to push harder next year. I [have] two more years to go.”

One of the toughest takeaways from the game for the team was the fact that Ward is leaving. He led the Terriers to five regional finals and two state Final Fours.

“This was it for me,” Ward said. “This is my last season. I know I am going to move forward and go out with a bang. I will be around town.”