Sabers will play for regional title

TUSCOLA — With his team holding a seven-point halftime lead Wednesday night against Paxton-Buckley-Loda, St. Thomas More coach James Kinney kept his halftime speech short and sweet.

Real short and sweet — the Sabers were back on the court warming up about three minutes after entering the locker room.

Whatever Kinney didn't say worked as well as what he could've said, as St. Thomas More went on a 6-0 run to open the second half and led by double digits almost the rest of the way in a 65-49 win against PBL in a Class 2A Tuscola Regional semifinal.

"The game plan was working in the first half, and we wanted to keep it the same," Kinney said. "We didn't want to fill their minds up with gibberish. I wanted them to continue what they were doing and we'd be victorious. That's why we had a 30-second halftime."

Non-talking points aside, Jaycee Hillsman was the biggest reason the Sabers (19-11) were victorious. The sophomore guard scored a game-high 29 points, including 12 in the third quarter as his team took control.

"My teammates got me the ball in places I could score, and we just executed the game plan ... Coach was just telling us to keep up our intensity and keep hustling. We beat a good team tonight," said Hillsman, who earned his first win against PBL in his career. "They're always a good team, well-coached."

The Panthers (24-5) got 27 points from senior guard Tanner Harris, but they played without starting center Gauge Snider (injury) and starting wing Jordan Glad (suspension). It showed, too, as the Sabers dominated the glass.

"We had the size advantage, so we had to take advantage of it," said Kinney, who also got 13 points from Travis Whitley.

Third-seeded St. Thomas More advanced to Friday's title game against top-seeded Unity.

"Unity's tough. They are very tough, but I think we're tough, too. Come Friday night, I guess we're going to find out who is the toughest," Kinney said.

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