HILLMAN-It's only midway through the season, but the Hillman basketball team seems to be hitting its stride.
That hasn't boded well for opponents so far this season and Rogers City was the latest team to be on the receiving end of the Tigers' precision on Thursday.
Six different players scored in double figures for Hillman and the Tigers routed the Hurons 94-26 at Hillman High School.
News Photo by James Andersen
Hillman’s Dylan Steinke (3) drives in for a lay-up while being defended by Rogers City’s Casey Szatkowski during the first half of a boys basketball game on Thursday at Hillman High School.
Hillman (10-1, 6-0) has used offensive balance, aggressive defense and solid rebounding to great effect this season. The Tigers controlled all three areas against the Hurons, opening the game on a 17-0 run and building a 36-4 lead by the end of the first quarter.
"I think right now at the midway point, we're demonstrating great balance as a team. We've averaging 35 rebounds a game, our assists are up to 20-22 a game," Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said. "One thing we're doing right now is that we've got great offensive balance. We've kind of come out the last three of four games and set the tone early."
Dylan Ross led Hillman with 18 points, Gunnar Libby and Mason VanPamel each had 13, Ty Jones added 12, Brenden Zimmer had 11 points and a season-high nine rebounds and Dylan Steinke rounded out Hillman's double-digit scoring with 10.
From the outset, Hillman ran its half-court and full-court defenses to perfection, forcing Rogers City (1-10) into tight spots on the floor and creating turnovers. The Hurons rarely got second chances at the basket as Hillman controlled the glass on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Hillman put on a clinic, beating the Hurons from seemingly everywhere on the floor. Hillman canned 10 three-pointers for the game, but wasn't afraid to drive inside either and used its big men to pick up some easy buckets.
After Hillman took an early 17-0 lead, Rogers City got its first bucket nearly four minutes into the game. Hillman then caught fire again and scored the next 14 points for a 31-2 lead. Klein capped the run with a nice fake where he extended the ball out with his arm, pulled it back quickly and threw it in for a lay-up.
Alex Hincka led Rogers City with 18 points, but the Hurons found themselves hounded by Hillman's defense on most of their trips down the floor and more often than not the ball ended up going back to the Tigers.
Hillman led 53-15 at halftime and kept the wheels churning in the third quarter, putting together an 18-0 stretch and draining three triples during the run.
In the later part of both halves, Hillman went to its bench and the Tigers' bench players came up big. Hillman got 32 points from its bench and while Libby and Steinke both reached double figures, Kyle Henigan and Travis Powers were among those who also played some quality minutes.
That depth could prove very important for Hillman as the Tigers keep their focus on winning the program's third North Star League title and making a playoff run.
"One thing that's key and people are recognizing more and more is that one thing we have in our favor is a lot of depth. Each and every day we've got the 11 best kids in our school going at it and it shows on the court," Muszynski said. "As good as we were last year and even with the push we made, we didn't have much depth. The best thing (now) is that we're very interchangeable."
Rogers City's JV team defeated Hillman 59-43. Josh Belusar led the Hurons with 22 points and Chris Tulgestka and Jacob Hein each scored seven points. Seth Knaggs led Hillman with 17 points and Jake Kangas added 11.
HIILLMAN (94): M. VanPamel 5 0-1 13; D. Ross 2 5-5 9; B. Zimmer 5 1-1 11; M. Klein 6 3-4 18; T. Jones 5 0-0 12; G. Libby 4 3-4 13; D. Steinke 3 4-6 10; K. Henigan 2 2-2 6; T. Powers 1 0-0 2.
ROGERS CITY (26): A. Hincka 7 4-6 18; C. Lopez 0 2-4 2; Q. Kelly 1 0-0 2; A. Belusar 2 0-0 4.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.