ST. IGNACE The Hillman boys basketball boys team breezed past Alanson 72-40 in a Class D regional semifinal on Monday and broke a school record for wins in the process.
This win creates a grudge match situation in the regional final, where Hillman (21-1) will face No. 2 Cedarville (21-2). Last year, the Tigers forced two overtime periods in the regional final to nearly upset Cedarville, but ultimately lost 92-85.
Cedarville has won 12 of its last 13 regional finals.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Hillman’s David Julka (34) tries to dribble around an Alanson defender during a Class D regional semifinal game on Monday in St. Ignace. Hillman beat Alanson 72-40 and will play Cedarville on Wednesday in a regional final.
"I feel very confident (going against Cedarville). We have a very strong team, especially when we play together. I think we're going to go out strong and come out with a victory," Hillman junior Dylan Ross said. "I know that they're not very head strong, if you pick them apart they fall apart. So that's what we're going to do with our D."
Alanson (9-13) came out strong in the first minute. Brett Williams hit his first of five three-pointers 20 seconds into the game while Ryan Bailey followed with a bucket to give the Vikings a 5-0 lead.
Williams led Alanson with 14 points.
Any threat of a Alanson upset went out the window when the Tigers outscored the Vikings 20-2 for the rest of the quarter to take a 20-7 lead into the second quarter.
"I thought that early on we came out a little slow. Maybe we were looking ahead a little bit. Alanson, they've had a decent season, but we saw some things that we could do trap wise and I think we just came out light," Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said. "They jumped out on us, we called a quick time out and go things re-situated and improved from there."
A big part of Hillman's success was its trademark full-court press. Viking players were often double teamed by players like Ty Jones and Mason VanPamel. This forced the Vikings to play quickly and take bad shots that the Tigers quickly rebounded.
VanPamel led Hillman with 23 points and six rebounds. Jones pitched in with 11 points.
Things weren't much better for the Vikings in the second quarter. Hillman held Alanson scoreless for the entire period as it picked up 14 points to take a 34-7 lead into halftime.
Hillman's normal three-point attack was limited in the first half. Alanson's zone defense reacted well to Hillman's perimeter attack and forced the Tigers to the post.
Tigers' players like Ross, Gunnar Libby and Mike Klein were able to break through the Alanson defense to pick up hard fought baskets to overcome a lack of three-point success.
Williams hit two treys in the third quarter while Zack Peters hit one to help narrow Hillman's lead slightly.
VanPamel and Libby hit treys of their own to hold off any Viking comeback. Hillman took a 55-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Vikings came out strong on the perimeter again in the fourth quarter with Williams hitting two more and Bailey adding one. Hillman was limited to one trey from Klein.
However, a Vikings comeback was never a true threat for a Hillman team that continually found new ways to score.
It will need that kind of versatility to upset Cedarville and become the first Hillman boys basketball team to win a regional.
"I think we're ready. A lot of us are pumped up and ready to go. We didn't play like we normally do. I think by Wednesday we'll have everything figured out and it'll be a good game," Klein said.
HILLMAN (72): D. Steinke 3-4 3; D. Ross 3 1-2 7; T. Jones 5 1-1 11; G. Libby 3 0-0 8; M. Klein 4 0-2 11; M. VanPamel 8 6-6 23; B. Zimmer 2 1-2 5; D. Julka 1 0-0 2; G. Mulka 1 0-0 2.
ALANSON (40): H. Losey 1 0-0 2; L. McFarland 2-2 2; K. Wicker 1 0-0 2; R. Bailey 1 2-2 6; Z. Peters 3 0-0 9; Z. Keller 1 2-6 4; B. Williams 5 0-0 14.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.