Deshaun Hilliard walked toward the bench midway through the first quarter and asked Legacy boys basketball coach Jack Tarango why he was being substituted.
Teammate James Redd “is working harder than you,” Tarango told him.
Hilliard received the message, loud and clear.
The 6-foot-3-inch junior forward finished with 16 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, and the Longhorns routed Chaparral 76-51 on Saturday during the Battle Born Classic at Durango.
“I didn’t think he was rebounding with a purpose during the first part of the game,” Tarango said. “If you’re not going to give full effort, we’re going to go with other guys. … We reiterated the things we wanted and talked to him on the bench.
“He’s a great kid and somebody we need to get going if we’re going to make the playoffs. He responded, as I expected.”
Hilliard, who sat until 5:32 was left in the second quarter, overpowered the undersized Cowboys during the third and sparked a 16-2 closing run that gave the Longhorns (8-10) a 68-40 lead.
Hilliard had nine points and 12 rebounds in the third as Chaparral (6-11) struggled inside after post Maharie Trotter (11 rebounds) fouled out with 1:18 remaining in the second quarter.
“We tried to make an effort to go to him a little more and ran some sets for him,” Tarango said. “They had one of their key guys out, and we were able to turn up the pressure and get some turnovers. We’ve struggled the last few games, so it was good to go out like we did in the second half.”
Jacob Rainey supplied 16 points and four steals for Legacy, which bounced back from a 75-66 loss to Mojave on Friday by shooting 55 percent (29-for-53) from the field and forcing 25 turnovers. Jalen Glover made four of the Longhorns’ nine 3-pointers and had 12 points, and Shakir Arrey and Christian Solis scored 11 apiece.
Don’Tre Avery and Anthony Madden combined for nine of the Longhorns’ 16 steals.
Tyree McNeal had 22 points, and Marc Silas recorded 11 points and three steals for the Cowboys. Chaparral stayed in the game by making 16 of 18 from the foul line in the second quarter — McNeal was 8-for-10 — and used a late 8-0 spurt to trail 38-32.
But Arrey made a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer, and Legacy opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run to go up 52-34.
“Obviously these games are good for us, but league is what’s most important,” said Tarango, whose team hosts Cimarron-Memorial on Tuesday in a key Southwest League game. “This was a good game for us to come back and play a little better.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.