Castlin scored 12 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth. The future Ivy Leaguer bound for Columbia was 12-of-16 from the free-throw line and recorded a double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds. He had seven points at halftime, where Hillgrove (4-1, 2-1) led 21-13.
For the game, the Hawks connected on 20 of 25 free throws.
“Free throws really made a difference for us late in the game,” Hillgrove coach Ed Morris said. “I’m glad the guys were able to knock those down to maintain our lead. They did a good job focusing on that when they had to.”
North Cobb (0-5, 0-3) held Hillgrove scoreless over the first 5 minutes of the game and took a 9-4 lead with 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Castlin scored the final four points for the Hawks, who trailed 9-8 at the end of the frame.
Hillgrove, however, made its mark in the second period. The Hawks outscored the Warriors 13-4 and limited North Cobb to one field goal in taking their eight-point halftime advantage.
Hillgrove never trailed the rest of the way.
“It was Hillgrove’s defense, more than anything, that slowed us down,” North Cobb coach Terry Gorsuch said. “I think we did OK in the first quarter, but it was hard for us to score at times in the second quarter, and that’s a credit to Hillgrove’s defense.”
Keith Ray, who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, converted a three-point play to increase the Hawks’ margin to 10. North Cobb cut the deficit to five following Micha Woodard’s layup, but Castlin scored seven of Hillgrove’s final nine points to give the Hawks a 33-25 edge entering the fourth quarter.
Castlin’s jumper with 6:07 on the clock gave Hillgrove its biggest lead of the game at 12 points, and the Hawks were still ahead 48-37 after Ray drained two free throws with 55.3 seconds remaining in the game.
North Cobb attempted to rally behind Noah Cotton, who finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three steals. Cotton scored seven of his 10 points in the final 45 seconds, including a 3-pointer with 16 on the clock that left the Warriors trailing 52-47, but North Cobb couldn’t get any closer.
Woodard scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Daniel Beausejour scored 10 second-half points and added six rebounds and two steals for North Cobb. Devin Jackson had four points and six rebounds.
North Cobb only made 10 of 20 free throws in the game.
“It’s always tough to play North Cobb,” Morris said. “We struggled offensively to make shots early against them. In the second quarter, we did a good job defensively bearing down on them and got the score up to about eight or 10 points, but we couldn’t get away from them.”
Hillgrove 71, North Cobb 41: Mackenzie Engram scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the first half as the Lady Hawks rolled to the Region 4AAAAAA win.
Hillgrove led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter and 39-22 at halftime. The Lady Hawks (5-1, 3-0) took control of the game in the third period, outscoring the Lady Warriors (4-2, 1-2) by a 23-9 margin.
Zarriah Pierce had 10 points for Hillgrove, including six in the third period. Tene Thompson finished with nine, while Tyra Smith came off the bench to post 11 points and go 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Kyrie’ Chandler had 10 points to lead North Cobb, which saw a four-game winning streak ended. Ty Broadwater chipped in seven, while Aniya Corley had six.
Hillgrove made 15 of 19 free throws, compared to 14 of 28 for North Cobb.