2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/18/2014 11:45 PM

Thornton, hot-shooting Hoffman handle Leyden

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By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Jorden Thornton and Hoffman Estates got off to a fast start in running past Leyden 71-56 on Tuesday in Hoffman Estates.

Thornton hit his first 5 shots, including a pair 3's, while the Hawks converted their first 7 shots and 10 of their first 11 to build a 23-14 lead after the first quarter.

"I came out with confidence, and so did my teammates," said Thornton, who finished with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting. "We were pumped up and ready to go for this game. This game was big for us because it gave us momentum with the sectional playoff pairings coming up."

The Hawks (16-8) have won 6 in a row and look to move way up in the playoff seedings for the Bartlett sectional, where Hoffman Estates is 6-3 against sectional opponents. Those pairings will be announced Friday.

"We are playing at a good clip right now," Hoffman Estates coach Luke Yanule said. "This is a great group of kids. From the managers to the players, it is a nice group of kids overall. They know how to play with each other and for each other."

That atmosphere is how the Hawks have gone from a 4-21 team last year to a team on the upswing this year.

"We are having a blast out there," said Robinson, a senior, who finished with 20 points. "We are close like a family. We are like one unit together. We love each other and do a lot of stuff together."

Thornton, who is a sophomore, along with Dante Cleveland (7 points), Robinson and Trevor Pye (10 points) gave the Hawks a comfortable 33-18 lead at the half.

"JT (Thornton) came out and we knew he was hot," Yanule said. "I though we were efficient and aggressive. We need to play better on the defensive end, though."

Leyden (10-13), which also will play in Bartlett sectional, took advantage of some of those defensive lapses by Hoffman in the second half half. The Hawks had their biggest lead at 38-20 with 6:35 left in the third quarter when the Eagles finally found their mark.

Led by Nick Best (19 points), the Eagles closed to 48-38 with 7:15 to play. Again Hoffman was able to stretch its lead, with baskets by Pye and Robinson and the fourth trey of the game by Thornton to open up a 58-40 lead with 4:57 left.

Best, along with Dom Aiello, rallied the Eagles, as Leyden pulled to within 8 at 62-54 on a three by Aiello (11 points).

A basket by Robinson and 4 free throws by Thornton ended that threat, and the Hawks put the game away with a crashing dunk by Brandon Hall.

"We knew Thornton was good," Leyden coach Bill Heisler said. "He was banging those early, and that was frustrating. We never could really catch up from the difference from that. We were even the rest of the way.

"Give them credit. Every time we made a run, they made a stand and put it in the cup."

Aaron Stocks added 7 points for Leyden while Geo Romero and JoQuill Meeks each had 6 points.

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