Hillman passes early season test with win over Cedarville

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Hillman’s Jared Juergens makes a three point shot during the second quarter of a boys basketball game against Cedarville on Thursday at Hillman High School.

HILLMAN — Thursday night was just simply the Hillman basketball team doing what the Hillman basketball team does.

The Tigers were in for a tough early season test playing a Cedarville team that came in with five games under its belt and were 4-1 while averaging close to 70 points per game coming into Thursday’s matchup.

Hillman passed the test with flying colors and improved to 4-0 on the season with a convincing 74-56 victory over the Trojans.

“We knew coming in Cedarville’s only loss was to Boyne City and traditionally they are really good in transition and it showed early on tonight because they were leaking guys out on us and got some easy baskets,” Hillman head coach Eric Muszynski said. “We made some adjustments and I thought we were really perimeter oriented so we tried to cut back on that. It was a quality win for us to grind it out in the half and battle back because we haven’t had that yet this year so to be down and come back and make adjustments and come out execute it was great and it was a good win.”

Cedarville displayed early on why they have had success lighting up the scoreboard to begin the season as they passed the ball the length of the court and got up and down fast, beating the Tigers on multiple occasions in the first quarter which led to easy buckets.

The Trojans grabbed a 16-11 lead just over five minutes into the game as Dakota Fairchild had the hot hand early for Cedarville scoring half of the teams first quarter points.

Muszynski called a timeout with 2:42 remaining in the opening quarter with his team down five and the Tigers quickly made adjustments and slowly the momentum began to swing as Hillman scored 10 of the last 12 points to take a 21-18 lead after one quarter.

The pace slowed down early in the second quarter and the Tigers held a two point lead with 3:37 left in the half after an Andrew Funk three pointer forced Cedarville to call a timeout.

The timeout only gave Hillman the opportunity to make more adjustments and the Tigers did just that as they scored the final seven points of the half to take a 33-26 lead into the break.

“Typically our big guys have enough speed to get back, but what we started doing was took our guards back, but it affected our front end pressure that we typically do on our press. We ended up just leaking a big guy back and making him stay home,” Muszynski said. “We also talked about shooting for ten seconds in our press because maybe we were a little too aggressive in our traps and seeing if they would pass the ball around a little more as they worked the ball down the floor and I think it helped us shrink the floor. Our biggest adjustment was just sending big guys back on free throws rather than sneak them in to get a rebound because that hurt us early on and those adjustments worked well for us.”

The third quarter belonged to the Tigers as they quickly began to break the game wide open with their ability to execute at both ends of the floor. Hillman ended the quarter with a 19 point lead and gained even more momentum when Matt Hunt made a heads up play to grab an air ball on a three point attempt and lay it up as the buzzer went off to give the home team a 54-35 advantage heading into the final quarter.

The Tigers didn’t slow down in what was a high scoring fourth quarter. Hillman opened up its largest lead of the night at 63-40 with just under five and half minutes to play and were able to empty the bench in the final minutes to close out the game and get a huge early season win in the teams final game of 2017, capping off another remarkable calendar year for the orange and black.

“We’re off to a good start and we’re showing just how balanced we are and if we can continue to have that balance we’re going to do great,” Muszynski said.

Jared Juergens led all scorers pouring in a game high 23 points on the night. Brandon Banks added 18 points, Andrew Funk ended with 10, Kory Henigan has nine points and Billy Kolcan chipped in with eight points.

Cedarville was led by Trey Norris who scored 20 points. Jarron Masuga added 12 points Fairchild ended the night with nine points, all of which came in the first quarter and Tristan Masuga chipped in with eight points.

Hillman will play its first game of the new year on January 2, when they travel to Posen.

The Hillman JV team was defeated by Cedarville, falling by a final score of 56-40. Isaac Morrison led the Tigers with 21 points.

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HILLMAN (74): B. Hunt 0 2-2 2; A. Funk 4 0-0 10; B. Banks 6 4-4 18; B. Kolcan 3 1-2 8; J. Juergens 8 5-5 23; M. Hunt 1 0-0 2; K. Henigan 3 4-3 9; N. Taratuta 1 0-0 2.

CEDARVILLE (56): D. Fairchild 4 0-0 9; S. Bale 1 0-0 2; T. Kohlman 1 1-2 3; J. Masuga 5 2-7 12; C. Fisher 1 0-0 2; T. masuga 4 0-0 8; T. Norris 8 4-6 20.