HILLMAN-It's been a good year for the Hillman boys basketball team.
It's 84-38 victory over Whittemore-Prescott on Friday marks its ninth straight win this season and 10 straight home wins.
"Whittemore played a nice man to man and they were physical with us. We haven't had that in a few games and it was a good test early on," Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Hillman’s Travis Powers (33) goes to the hoop against heavy Whittemore-Prescott defense in a Friday night North Star League matchup in Hillman. The Tigers routed the Cardinals 84-38.
Whittemore's physical defense held Hillman scoreless for a minute and a half to open the game, but treys from Mason VanPamel and Mike Klein within 20 seconds gave Hillman 8-4 lead with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
VanPamel led Hillman (13-1, 8-0) with 25 points while Klein scored 13.
Whittemore's Jens Gillings hit a three 20 seconds later to narrow Hillman's lead to 8-7 with four minutes left to play.
It was the closest the game got all evening, as the Tigers outscored the Cardinals 14-2 in the last four minutes of the quarter to take a 22-9 lead into the second quarter. A big part of the Tigers' success has been their consistent full-court pressure and trap defense.
Hillman's Ty Jones hit a trey 30 seconds into the second quarter to extend Hillman's lead to 25-9 and the Tigers kept pushing ahead. By the time Gunnar Libby hit his first basket of the night four minutes into the quarter, Hillman had pulled ahead 37-14.
The Cardinals had an 11-point streak at the end of the second driven by Gillings and Rodriguez. These two players scored all but 20 of Whittemore's first-half points as Hillman took a 45-25 lead into the third quarter.
Rodriguez led Whittemore with 15 points while Gillings had 12.
The Tigers continued to pile on the points in the third quarter, outscoring the Cardinals 24-13 to take a 69-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals increased the physicality of their defense in the third, but the Tigers were successful at drawing fouls, hitting seven free throws in the third.
The last seven minutes the fourth quarter were played on the running clock after VanPamel gave Hillman a 73-38 lead by hitting two free throws.
Gideon Mulka hit a jumper to take the game to 84-38 with 27 seconds left in the game. As the final buzzer sounded, the Tigers had held Whittemore scoreless in the fourth for the win.
Hillman travels to Mio on Tuesday. It's a non-conference game, but if Hillman wins one more conference game, the Tigers will be North Star League champions.
"We're really excited about (the shot at being North Star League champs). It would be the third time in school history, so we're excited and antsy and sometimes its shows on the floor, but at the end of the day these guys get it done," Muszynski said.
HILLMAN (84): D. Ross 5 3-3 13; T. Jones 5 5-7 16; G. Libby 2 2-3 6; M. Klein 5 0-0 13; M. VanPamel 7 7-8 25; B. Zimmers 2-4 2; T. Powers 2 4-4 8; G. Mulka 1 0-0 2.
WHITTEMORE (38): J. Gillings 5 1-2 12; J. Rodriguez 6 3-4 15; A. Bell 1 0-0 2; T. MacDonald 1 0-1 2; G. Blust 1 0-0 2; T. Shoemaker 2 0-0 5.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.