District final bound

WOLVERINE – For the second consecutive game, the Hillman boys basketball team got off to a near perfect start in the first quarter and ended up cruising to a huge 70-49 victory over Rogers City in a Class D district semifinal on Wednesday at Wolverine High School.

Both teams went back and forth through the first three minutes of the opening quarter, but Hillman controlled the rest of the quarter, ending with a 17-0 run to jump out to a commanding 18 point lead early.

“I thought in the first quarter we had great flow and great intensity. It was key for us to get off to a good start and we were able to execute. We talked about how playing Rogers City twice in the regular season and hearing how they were close games, we talked about putting together longer and more dominant spurts throughout the game. I thought defensively it was how it’s been all year, it’s kind of the trademark of our team because defense wins championships. I’m really happy we were able to put ourselves in a position to go out and get another championship on Friday,” Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said.

The win advances the Tigers to a district final matchup with Onaway at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Tigers continued to show off their versatility and athleticism throughout the half, running up and down the court, scoring seemingly at will and held a 43-19 lead at the break.

Rogers City came out in the second half, trying to take advantage of some Hillman foul trouble throughout the early stages of the third quarter, but were just in too big of a hole to get anywhere close to striking distance, as the Tigers stayed on the attack on the entire night and were able to coast to a big victory.

Despite a strong effort from Rogers City senior Alex Hincka who scored a team-high 20 points in loss, it wasn’t nearly enough as Hincka was the only player who recorded double figures for the Hurons.

Hillman’s Gunnar Libby poured in a game-high 21 points in the win. Dylan Steinke and Brandon Banks each scored 15 points apiece to help the Tigers improve to 22-0 on the year and advance to their fourth consecutive district title game.

Onaway and Hillman have yet to meet up this season, but know a lot about one another. Both teams on paper are evenly matched as they are loaded with a ton of talent and this matchup for the district championship has all of the makings of an exciting game.

“I’ve watched Onaway all year long, they are a quality team and a senior led team. They have been through the wars with us, over the last couple years it’s boiled down to us and Onaway for the district. We are going to have to try and maintain their two guards in (Joe) Sigsby and (Cortez) Washington, but what a matchup it’s going to be,” Muszynski said.

“We’ve been preparing and they have been on our radar all year. One thing I love about our kids, is not only am I into it, but they go out and scout so we’re familiar with Onaway and they’re familiar with us so there probably won’t be any curve balls heading into the game, but we’ll see the desire and passion and hopefully we can be the team at the end of the day winning another district.”

HILLMAN (70) – D. Steinke 6 3-4 15; S. Knaggs 1 1-2 3; G. Libby 5 9-13 21; B. Kolcan 1 0-0 2; B. Banks 5 1-2 15; K. Henigan 1 4-4 6; K. McLaren 2 0-0 4; A. Funk 2 0-1 4.

ROGERS CITY (49) – M. Altman 0 5-6 5; J. Belusar 1 4-6 6; B. Koss 1 0-0 2; A. Radke 1 0-0 2; A. Hincka 7 6-10 20; C. Tulgetska 2 1-2 7; J. Hilla 0 0-1 0; J. Hein 2 1-4 5; E. Delke 1 0-0 2.

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.