By ANDRES MARTINEZ
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
GRIGGSVILLE, Ill. -- Cody Hildebrand and the Payson Seymour boys basketball team own a Pike County Conference championship.
The Indians don't have a regional title to call their own, though.
That might be about to change.
Top-seeded Payson moved into the championship game of the Class 1A Griggsville-Perry Regional with Wednesday night's 76-58 victory over Griggsville-Perry.
"I've never won a regional, and that's what I want to do," said Hildebrand, the junior who scored a game-high 31 points.
To do that, the Indians need to exact a little revenge. Payson will take on Liberty in Friday's championship game. The Eagles beat the Indians in the title game of the Winchester Invitational in mid-January.
The Indians took control of this game early, opening on a 9-0 run with the first five points of the game scored by Hildebrand. The Tornadoes' Matthew Kennedy ended the run by hitting a 3-pointer with 5:40 to play in the first quarter.
However, Payson kept up the pace as Hildebrand and Jake Voss combined to score 16 of the Indians' 20 points in the first quarter as Payson built a 20-16 edge.
"They stepped up offensively," Payson coach Brian Rea said. "We need more defense out of everybody."
Still only ahead by four points at halftime, the Indians had to make adjustment to get more people involved offensively. Hildebrand, Voss and junior Lance Buhlig scored all but one of the Indians' 36 first-half points.
"We started to act like, ‘Oh, no, let's not lose,' instead of ‘Hey, let's go win,'" Rea said. "We corrected that at halftime, and we did our thing."
The Indians outscored the Tornadoes 20-11 in the third quarter to gain some needed separation.
With four and a half minutes to play, Griggsville-Perry junior Levi King hit a 3-pointer to bring the Tornadoes within nine at 60-51. After the Indians extended the lead to 12 at 63-51, King hit another three to bring the Tornadoes back within single digits, but it was the closest the Tornadoes would get.
The Indians outscored the Tornadoes 13-4 in the final four minutes.
"That's our style. We try to wear people down," Rea said. "The last four minutes are winning time, and that's where we thrive."