Malik Hackett and the Sacred Heart Gremlins came out red hot Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Kaysinger Conference boys basketball tournament at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
The second-seeded Gremlins shot out to a 12-2 lead and rolled to a 70-46 win over seventh-seeded Stover.
Sacred Heart (17-3) will meet the Tipton-Northwest winner in the semifinals at 9 p.m. Tuesday. Stover (6-16) will face an undetermined at 9 p.m. Thursday in the consolation semifinals.
Hackett scored 10 of the Gremlins’ first 12 points in the quarter. He finished with a game-high 23. Garrett Strange and Riley Simmons tallied 11 each.
“They’re a very quick and physical team and very well coached,” Stover coach Mike Schwartz said. “It’s always hard to beat them. The fact that we played two nights in a row probably didn’t help either. (Stover beat La Monte on Thursday and Friday nights.) I’m not all that displeased with the way we handled (their pressure). We got some good shots early, and we just didn’t get them to fall.”
Matthew Frisk and Colton Knierim helped the Bulldogs slice their deficit to 12-10. However, the Gremlins closed strong to take an 18-10 lead into the second quarter.
“We’re moving the ball better,” Sacred Heart coach Steve Goodwin said. “I think we’re unselfish. We really didn’t care who scores just as long as the team’s playing well.”
Hackett added eight more points in the second quarter, but he wasn’t doing it alone. His teammates stepped up with Hackett providing the spark.
“Malik’s a good player. He’s growing every day we play a game,” Goodwin said. “He’s growing, and I think we all are. We still make a few mistakes here and there, but we’re trying really hard. They’re listening and they all like each other, so I was proud of their effort.”
Stover made a push early in the second half, closing its deficit to 42-27, but the Gremlins regained the momentum, pushing their lead to as much as 25 points, 57-32 on a putback by Garrett Strange.
“We were a little bit better in the second half, which is hard to do against a fine team like Sacred Heart,” Schwartz said.
Sacred Heart took a 59-36 lead into the final quarter, and the Bulldogs came no closer than 21, 66-43 on two free throws by Frisk.
The Gremlins shot 53 percent (16 of 30) from 2-point range and 8 of 19 (42 percent) from outside the arc.
Garrett Goetze paced Stover with 13 points, and Frisk finished with 11.