New year, same results

Tigers win first game of 2018 with victory over Posen

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Hillman’s Gage Steinke (3) dribbles past Posen defender Avery Werth (10) during the fourth quarter of a boys basketball game on Tuesday at Posen High School.

POSEN — It may be a new year, but there is nothing new about the Hillman boys basketball team as it continues its winning ways; the Tigers’ resolution is to continue winning games.

So far, so good as Hillman won its first game of 2018 by traveling to Posen on Tuesday night and defeating the Vikings, 58-41.

“I thought in spurts today we looked really good. At times offensively we weren’t as fluid as we normally are, but I thought the shot selection we had today was really good, I though we were patient and I thought we executed well,” Hillman head coach Eric Muszynski said. “One of the things I didn’t like that I talked to my guys about was when we made some substitutions and traditionally we demonstrate pretty good depth and I though we were a little lackadaisical with some of the guys who came off the bench and even when we went back into our regular rotation. Other than that, I thought we played a good two quarters today after coming back from an extended break.”

It looked like the Tigers couldn’t wait to get back on the court early on as they outscored Posen 16-4 in the opening quarter. The Vikings had a difficult time with Hillman’s pressure as the Tigers forced several turnovers that led to early points.

“I thought we did fine against Hillman’s press and we should because we had practiced it every day since our last game. We’ve been working on it and we matched up against them well, but we made a few costly errors early on,” Posen head coach Chris Keller said.

Despite falling behind early, the Vikings showed no quit and continued to battle late stages of the first half.

Posen fell behind 23-4 with 4:20 left in the half and was held scoreless for nearly six minutes. Trailing by 19, Keller called a timeout and the Vikings regrouped.

Jared Sharpe began to heat up and scored six points in the final three and half minutes and Posen ended the half on a 12-5 run, cutting Hillman’s lead to 28-16 at the break.

“I build my kids up in practice and I am constantly making them play down. I want them to know that they can come from behind and win,” Keller said. “I think that the way we condition and the way we practice, they don’t have any choice but to not quit when it’s easy to quit. They refuse to quit and I refuse to let them and we’re all one unit. No team should be comfortable being up on us and I think we showed that tonight.”

The Tigers got back on track after the break as they began feeding the ball inside to Kory Henigan who scored eight of Hillman’s first ten points of the third quarter.

Hillman took a 20-point lead late in the third when Brandon Banks made a layup and connected on a three point shot. Jared Sharpe answered, but the Tigers ended the quarter with momentum as Nic Taratuta made a heads up play. He rebounded a missed three-point attempt and got a shot to fall at the buzzer to give Hillman a comfortable 47-28 lead heading into the final quarter.

“We talked about making adjustments at half and getting the ball into the post rather than settling for some of the perimeter shots like we did in the first half and we did a good job feeding Kory and Nic. That was good to see the two juniors going to work and to see them step up was very positive,” Muszynski said. “We have a balanced attack. We have four players scoring in double digits and it’s something we’ve always preached here, we’ve always had a handful of guys be successful and each and every guy is important on this squad.”

The Tigers were able to hold off Posen in the final quarter despite Sharpe scoring 11 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead Posen. Sam Brunet added nine points for the Vikings.

Hillman was led by Andrew Funk who scored 16 points. Banks added 14, Henigan ended the night with 10 points and Jared Juergens and Taratuta finished with eight points apiece.

The Tigers improve to 5-0 on the season and will host Mio on Thursday.

Posen falls to 1-3 overall and will be back in action on Friday when it travels to Atlanta.

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HILLMAN (58): A. Funk 7 0-0 16; K. Henigan 4 2-2 10; B. Banks 6 0-1 14; J. Juergens 2 2-2 8; N. Taratuta 4 0-0 8; C. Koenig 1 0-0 2.

POSEN (41): J. Sharpe 9 0-0 23; D. Schuch 1 1-2 3; S. Brunet 4 1-2 9; M. Wisniewski 2 0-0 4; J. Misiak 1 0-0 2; E. Hincka 0 0-2 0.

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

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