By ERIC BENAC
News Sports Writer
HILLMAN-The start of the 2012-13 girls basketball season came for Hillman and Onaway on Monday in a tough fought match that saw the Cardinals come out on top 53-45 at the end.
In spite of his team's loss, Hillman coach John Kuzewski wasn't hanging his head.
"Overall I'm pretty happy with how the girls played tonight. They showed a lot of energy and effort tonight and we're not hanging our head in defeat," he said.
The game started slowly with almost a minute gone before Onaway's Emily Estep hit a three pointer to put Onaway up 3-0.
However, two quick fouls early in the first quarter gave Onaway's Temara Lupu the chance to put some distance between her team and the Tigers. She hit four of six free throws in the first quarter.
Onaway went 22-for-36 from the charity stripe Monday, something that impressed coach Marty Mix.
Strong defensive play on both teams side as well as a few field goals by Jensen Tchorzynski and Taylor Crawford helped keep the game at a tight 10-9 Onaway lead.
The second quarter was very similar to the first. It was a big quarter for Hillman's Morgan Hardies who scored six points. It was also another big quarter for Lupu, who scored six points to aid her team's cause.
It was during the second quarter that Hillman went on a four-point scoring run to go up 21-17. Hillman ended the half up 22-20.
The third quarter started strong for Onaway as Lupu hit a three pointer. Not to be outdone, Hardies scored six points.
Hillman's offense began to slow down at this point as Onaway's started to speed up. After taking the lead 25-24 a minute and a half into the third quarter, Onaway kept lead the rest of the game. Ashley Lecureux also hit a three pointer to stretch Onaway's lead to 33-29 at the end of the third quarter.
Momentum shifted toward Onaway during the fourth quarter. Price came out strong with back-to-back three pointers that further stretched Onaway's lead. Tchorzynski and Crawford hit one field goal a piece in a quarter that saw Hillman score its remaining points on free throws.
Onaway found continued success on free throws as Emily Estep went 5-for-5 and contributed seven points for the quarter. Price scored 11 points in the period.
Hillman's continued success at the free throw line helped keep the Tigers in the game. Abby Olree went 4-for-4 while Crawford went 4-for-6. With just under three minutes to play, Onaway only lead 42-40.
Onaway outscored Hillman 13-3 in the last three minutes to pull ahead 53-45.
Kuzewski commented on the promise he saw in his young team, which has only three seniors.
"I saw these girls grow a lot during this game. Only a few of them have had any time at a varsity level and they really pulled it together. I am really encouraged by what I saw and consider this a solid way to start the season," he said.
Mix discussed his girl's momentum coming out of a historic Onaway volleyball season that saw many of the girls on this team headed down to the state finals in Battle Creek.
"A lot of these girls are coming off the high of going so far in volleyball. They're coming from a winning perspective and it really helps them pull together and focus on the game when it really matters," he said.
Onaway travels to Rogers City on Wednesday while Hillman hosts Hale on Friday.
The Tigers JV team won 20-19 in a close fought battle. Top scorers for Hillman included Karena Tracey with five, Riley Appelgren with four and Julia Hunt with four. Onaway's top scorers included Lexi Szymoniak with 11 points, Shyanne Corey with four and Morganne Badgero with two.
Onaway (53): Ashley Lecureux 1-0-2-3; Emily Estep 3-5-6-12; Devin Bristley 1-0-2-2; Mariah Ehrke 0-2-6-2; Erika Price 5-2-2-15; Megan Estep 0-3-4-3; Temara Lupu 2-10-14-16.
Hillman (45): Abby Olree 0-4-6-4; Taylor Crawford 2-5-7-9; Alissa Jones 1-0-0-3; Maryah Hunt 1-1-4-3; Jensen Tchrozynski 2-3-7-7; Alyssa Abledinger 1-1-1-3; Kourtney Boldrey 1-0-0-2; Morgan Hardies 5-2-2-12; Katelyn Kenyon 1-0-0-2.