The Hillman boys basketball team accomplished one of its season goals on Friday after the Tigers won their second consecutive district championship.
Now the Tigers are aiming to bring home some more hardware.
Hillman is one of two area boys basketball teams taking part in the regional playoffs, which begin tonight. Hillman plays Alanson in a Class D regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. today in St. Ignace.
News File Photo
Hillman’s Ty Jones (11) dribbles toward the net during a district semifinal game against Rogers City last week. Hillman, which won its second straight district title on Friday, will play Alanson at 7:30 p.m. today in a regional semifinal in St. Ignace.
"We've had a lot of firsts this year and we want to get another first and win the regional," Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said.
Mio, which also won its second straight district crown Friday, will play Beaverton in a Class C regional semifinal at Traverse City St. Francis at 5:30 p.m.
Hillman (20-1) is no stranger to regionals, having advanced to the regional final last season. This time around however, the Tigers are more experienced and focused on winning that elusive first regional championship.
Class C regional at TC St. Francis
Mio vs. Beaverton, 5:30 p.m., today
East Jordan vs. TC St. Francis, 8 p.m., today
Regional Championship, 7 p.m., Wednesday
Class D regional at St. Ignace
Cedarville vs. Rudyard, 5:30 p.m., today
Hillman vs. Alanson, 7:30 p.m., today
Regional Championship. 7 p.m., Wednesday
"Last year when we lost to Cedarville, it almost became like a given we would end up back here," Muszynski said. "Last year we were kind of new to the whole thing, but this year we're more veteran about it and we're hoping to make some noise."
Tonight's winner advances to Wednesday's regional final against either Cedarville or Rudyard.
Alanson (9-12) may not have many wins this season, but Hillman isn't looking past the Vikings. For one thing, Alanson plays a tough schedule which features the likes of Boyne Falls. For another thing, the Vikings have several players averaging double figures and they play a 2-3 zone; something the Tigers haven't seen much of this season.
Add in the fact that the VIkings hoisted their first district crown since 2003 last week and Hillman could find itself matching up against a team that had is very much like the Tigers were last year: young and ready to prove something.
Sophomore Brett Williams paces Alanson's offense with 13.8 points a game. Senior Kody Wicker scores 10 points a game and Zack Peter averages 9.2 points.
Hillman has more than enough offense to go around with Mason VanPamel, Mike Klein and Ty Jones averaging double figures and a strong supporting cast that includes Dylan Ross, Gunnar Libby and Brenden Zimmer among others.
But it was Hillman's defense that stole the show last week in Hillman's district final win against Onaway. Hillman stifled the Cardinals early, limiting Onaway big man Joe O'Bradovich to three first-half points and getting its press going while creating some turnovers.
It's an effort Muszynski hopes to see again tonight.
"Our defense was stifling and that was the best defensive effort, we've had all year," Muszynski said. "I told my guys that if we play defense like that, we can compete with anybody in the state."
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.