Hillman gets by Alcona for 16th straight win

News Photo by James Andersen Hillman's Andrea Taratuta (25) dribbles past Alcona's Faith Wallenmaier during a girls basketball game on Thursday at Alcona High School.

LINCOLN–Experience paid off for the Hillman girls basketball team on Thursday.

Lyndsey Ryba scored 19 points and the Tigers overcame a tough defensive effort from Alcona to win 47-42 at Alcona High School.

The win is Hillman’s 16th straight and moves the Tigers another step closer to the North Star League’s Big Dipper division title.

In a game marked by solid defensive performances on both sides, Hillman (16-1, 13-0 NSL) found just enough offense to beat Alcona (9-7, 7-5 NSL). After playing to a 16-16 halftime tie, Hillman outscored Alcona 24-22 in the third quarter and 7-4 in the fourth quarter.

“Even though it was still even, it’s amazing how the fourth quarter turned into another defensive effort,” Hillman coach John Kuzewski said.

The second half saw several lead changes and Alcona held a two-point lead with 2:30 to play. But Hillman was able to get to the free throw line in the final minute and iced the game with four makes from the charity stripe.

“Hillman’s experience in finishing off close games worked in their favor tonight. I certainly am not disappointed in our effort,” Alcona coach Mark Feldhiser said.

After beating Alcona 51-42 earlier this season, Kuzewski expected another tough game from Alcona and Hillman got one.

Hillman led 9-6 after one quarter and led by as many as six early in the second quarter.

“I definitely did (expect a tough game). Alcona’s always a tough place to play and Alcona’s girls gave a great effort and shot the ball really well,” Kuzewski said.

Both teams had more room to maneuver in the third quarter and they took advantage, combining for nearly a half dozen three-pointers.

Alcona never led in the first half, but tied the game three separate times with the last one coming just before halftime as Taylor Livingston sank two free throws.

Livingston led Alcona with 12 points, Megan Grove had 11 and Faith Wallenmaier had 10.

Despite the loss, Feldhiser was proud of his team’s effort and believes it allowed Alcona to gain some valuable experience as district play draws closer.

“It was a really good basketball game and Hillman was able to close it out at the end. It was back and forth for 30 minutes but we had some trouble scoring at the end,” Feldhiser said. “I think that is probably as good as we have played this year, so that is a good thing to see as we get closer to tournament time.”

Alcona’s JV team defeated Hillman 39-34. Anna Loyer led Alcona with 12 points and Rachel Layton added nine.

Emma Libby and McKenna Hiveley each scored seven points for Hillman.