Hillsboro's Ryan Scott (left) drives to the hoop while battling against Fairfield's Jon Bentley on Tuesday night at Grandle Gymnasium. Scott and Bentley each scored 15 points in the Highland County rivalry game. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Hillsboro's Ryan Scott (left) drives to the hoop while battling against Fairfield's Jon Bentley on Tuesday night at Grandle Gymnasium. Scott and Bentley each scored 15 points in the Highland County rivalry game. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
LEESBURG — It took the Hillsboro Indians taking control of the pace of the game in overtime, but the Indians earned a road win on Tuesday night by defeating a hard-charging Fairfield Lions team at Grandle Gymnasium by a 55-51 score.

Hillsboro (7-2) led by a 36-25 score after three frames as they outscored the Fairfield Lions 17-6 in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter was a completely different story for the Lions, as they were the aggressors, and they were the team that forced the overtime period.

“I want to give Leesburg all the credit,” Hillsboro head coach Miles Burton said. “They played incredibly hard. At times today, I think they played like it meant more to them, and give them all the credit. They worked extremely hard, and they made everything we did tough.

“The third quarter, it felt like we were able to grab control. We’ve had that situation a couple times this year where we haven’t quite been able to finish them off, and that’s something we’ll definitely get back to the drawing board and work on.”

The Lions (5-4) kept the Indians scoreless for the first 5:25 of the fourth quarter, and in that span of in-game action the Lions had a 12-0 run of scoring that took them from trailing by 11 points to leading by a 37-36 score.

Fairfield opened the fourth-quarter scoring with four consecutive points from Tytis Cannon, and those two baskets were followed by a jumper from Reese Teeters and a drive to the hoop and two points by Brayden Zimmerman at the 4:15 mark of the quarter, cutting the Indians’ lead down to three points at 36-33.

Then came jumpers made by Connor Priest and Jon Bentley, both from the corner of the court, for a 37-36 Fairfield advantage with 2:57 left in regulation, which forced the Indians to call a timeout.

“I’m just proud of our boys,” Fairfield head coach Josh Howland said. “I’m proud of our boys for playing hard. I think we held [Hillsboro] to 41 in regulation, which I think is pretty impressive for a team like this. This team is going to win a lot of ball games, and I think we will, too.”

Hillsboro broke up the scoring run with two made free throws by Quintin Captain, but the Lions answered with a layup by Bentley at the 1:50 mark of the fourth, pushing the Lions back into the lead at 39-38 with 1:50 on the clock.

Hillsboro’s Lawton Parry sank a big 3-pointer to give the Indians the lead with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter, but Lions forced overtime when Teeters knocked down a jumper with 1:16, as that was the final scoring of the fourth frame, leaving the score tied at 41.

“I give my guys credit, they fought back,” Burton said. “We literally had one-possession defense with the game on the line, executed perfectly, went to OT and took four minutes to get out of this tough place to play with a win, and they did it. I’m very proud of our guys.”

Hillsboro won the OT period at 14-10, but it wasn’t easy for either team.

The Lions were first to score in OT with a put-back basket by Teeters, but Parry, again, had a timely 3-pointer that brought the away fans to their feet at the 3:18 mark of OT, putting the Indians in front at 44-43.

Following an offensive foul on the Lions, resulting in the Indians regaining possession of the ball, 10 seconds later it was Hillsboro’s Brad Miller controlling the paint with a layup for a three-point Hillsboro advantage. The Lions lost possession of the ball again, and 25 seconds of game time later, the Indians hit a triple when Scott sank a trey for the Tribe with 1:49 on the clock, making the score 49-43 in favor of Hillsboro.

Following a timeout, the Lions scored two points by Bentley, with the assist from Teeters, but by then the Lions were forced to foul the Indians. Captain took advantage of the free throws following a foul, sinking two shots for a 51-45 HHS lead.

Later in the fourth ,Hillsboro’s Hunter Price was in the right spot as he grabbed an offensive rebound, then took the ball to the basket for two points with 29 seconds on the OT clock for a 53-45 lead.

The Lions didn’t back down as Cannon sank a 3-pointer, but the Indians kept the Lions at bay with another made free throw by Captain with 18.2 on the clock. Cannon was on point yet again with another 3-pointer, but the Indians scored the final points with a converted free throw by Scott for the four-point Hillsboro win.

“The boys definitely played until the bitter end there,” Howland said. “They did a lot of things right, just not quite enough to close out at the end.

“There’s a lot for us to learn, anywhere from when we get trapped — first of all, don’t dribble into traps, kind of hang back — but also make sure we don’t just try to out-jump them. We were trying to out-jump Hillsboro, and obviously they’re too athletic.”

As for the first half, the score was tied at 12-12 after the first frame and 21-19 in favor of the Lions at halftime, as Fairfield outscored the Indians, 9-7 in the second frame.

Hillsboro had two players finish with 15 points each, with Scott and Parry earning the leading scorer honors in the non-conference Highland County win. Scott collected one two-point basket, four 3-pointers and was 1-of-2 from the free-throw line.

Parry finished with five 3-pointers, with two in the first quarter and one each in the third, fourth and OT periods. He also had a double-double with 11 rebounds in the win.

Price totaled 10 points for Hillsboro, while Captain collected seven points (five rebounds), Miller totaled six points (six rebounds), and Jakwon Clark scored two points. As a team, the Indians totaled 11 two-point baskets, nine 3-pointers and were 6-of-12 from the free-throw line.

Bentley led the Lions with 15 points (five rebounds), as he had six two-point baskets, and one 3-pointer. Cannon also had double-figure scoring with 10 points, making two 3-pointers and two two-point baskets.

Other FHS scoring included nine points from Zimmerman and eight points by Teeters, who also had 11 rebounds. Rounding out the Fairfield scoring were Koben Zink with three points, Caleb Payne with two points and Priest with four points.

Next for the Indians is a home FAC game on Friday, Jan. 15 against the Washington Blue Lions.

The Lions will next play Friday, Jan. 15 on the road in a SHAC game at Fayetteville.