Sophomore Derek Hinen and his fellow Foresters proved that they are more than their eighth place ranking in the CL league (4-8 record in conference action, 14-10 overall), as they beat Mt. Vernon Nazarene University on the road 69-59 Jan. 31.
“I don’t think any team underestimates us,” Hinen said. “[Anybody] can win any night, and Crossroads League teams know that.”
Having suffered a tough loss at home in Platt Arena Dec. 5 as the Cougars pulled out a last minute 56-55 victory, HU head coach Ty Platt emphasized his squad’s distaste for getting beaten at the buzzer.
With a score to settle, the Foresters started two freshmen and three sophomores. Not to be underestimated, the Foresters contended with the Cougars until MVNU’s Martell Medley landed a trey. Heralding a nine-point scoring streak, MVNU would keep the Foresters at bay, sitting with a seven-point advantage with Medley and teammate Bryan Redic pacing their team with 15 points each.
Down but not out, Hinen and fellow sophomore Daniel Woll got down to business, the latter demanding the attention of the Cougar defense as he laid down a dunk off Hinen’s assist. Woll would repay the favor, rebounding a missed jumper by Cougar Eric Roby and getting the ball to the hot hands of Hinen who would drain a three-point basket.
As the clock wore on, a determined defense and ignited Forester offense would not quit. Finally tying the scoreboard with both teams at 59 points in the last two minutes, HU would put together a series of free throws along with another trey from Hinen to distance itself for the win.
Hinen’s heroics did not go unnoticed as he landed 10 of 15 field goals and four of eight from beyond the arc. Shooting a perfect eight of eight from the charity stripe, he totaled a team high 32 points and nine assists. Woll added 15 points of his own while pulling down six rebounds. He too boasted a perfect record for the night at the penalty line, swishing four of four.
Platt was pleased with not only his consistent scorers, but the addition of his younger men who stepped up to “play big minutes off the bench.”
“Derek [Hinen] was very good all day and stepped up and hit big shots,” Platt said. “We are getting better, and our guys are finding out how hard you have to play each and every possession. They are also seeing how physical you have to be all the time to win in the CL [Crossroads League].”
One of the standout performances was that of freshman Devon Merder, the Heritage Hills graduate, who came off the bench to play 20 minutes while racking up eight points.
Woll said his team still has what it takes to make a run in the conference, working off Saturday’s win.
“It was huge for us to go into Mt. Vernon and get a win at their home place,” Woll said. “With them being in the spot right above us in conference, it was nice to narrow the gap. Hopefully, we can work off this win and make a late run in conference.”