Hiram boys playing well on eve of tournament, despite taking a big hit

The Hornets are the No. 1 seed in Region 7, despite losing big Walter Matthews for season
ajc.com

For the third straight season the Hiram boys have won the regular-season region title. Now the Hornets will try to keep the momentum going without a key piece.

“I tell my guys you chop up the season into three parts,” coach Keyon Boyd said. “The first part is the regular season, the second part is the region games and the third part is the region tournament and state playoffs. It’s about time for season three, so you’ve got to play as hard as you can.”

Hiram (15-8, 8-1) will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s Region 7 tournament but will be without big Walter Matthews, a powerful 6-foot-7 senior who has signed to play football at Southern Cal. Matthews sustained a shoulder injury recently that has knocked him out of the lineup for the rest of the year.

“It’s one of those things you have to deal with as a high school coach,” Keyon Boyd said. “I’m just luck to have had him for the little time I did.”

Although the lineup will look different without the big guy, the Hornets still bring plenty to the table.

“We’ve been playing pretty well,” Boyd said. “Everybody has bought in and everybody’s on the same page with the same goal. The guys understand what it means.”

Ryan Williams, a 5-10 senior point guard, is an experienced hand who makes things go. Jaiden Mann is a 6-4 senior wing who is a good shooter. Chase Tyler, who is headed to Duke to play football, is a versatile 6-4 senior who plays many roles, particularly on defense and leadership. Dino Loyd, a junior forward, moved in from North Carolina and has provided toughness.

Mathew injury has opened the door for Kingston Wilcox, a 6-4 junior who is taking notes and learning on the job.

“When Walter got hurt, his minutes went up and he’s thinking, ‘I’ve got these shoes to fill,’” Boyd said. “He’s done a great job, not doing too much, doing what is told to him. He rebounds, he blocks shots, scores a little around the basket. This could help him for sure next year.”

Hiram, who closes the regular season Friday against Cartersville, will play the first round of the Region 7 playoffs on Wednesday at Cartersville.

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