UPDATED: Alpena holds off Taratuta, Hillman for OT win
ALPENA — The Alpena High boys basketball team narrowly picked up its second win of the season in a thrilling game on Monday.
The Wildcats defeated Hillman in overtime with a final score of 57-54. Although Alpena fended off Hillman, Trenton Taratuta finished with 41 points and tied the Tigers’ single-game scoring record in the game.
With this win, Alpena has now improved its record to 2-2 and has won its two last games.
“We came out a little sluggish and struggled offensively, but we really turned it up in that second half. I think the key to our success was our second half rebounding and second chance point scoring,” Alpena coach John Pintar said.
The Wildcats got on the board first after Tucker Bright was fouled, leading to a free-throw opportunity.
The remainder of the first quarter was filled with spectacular defense from both sides. Alpena struggled to beat Hillman’s press which led to several steals and baskets made in transition. The Tigers on the other hand were just forced into bad shots by the Wildcats defense. Caleb McEwen also recorded an enormous block into the stands for Alpena.
Taratuta’s scoring started early after he made six of Hillman’s nine first-quarter points. At the end of the quarter, the score was tied 9-9.
Both offenses started to heat up during the second quarter, once Alpena figured out how to beat the press. This helped Easton Srebnik get open and he had nine points at the end of the quarter.
Taratuta continued his special game recording another seven points during the quarter. The Tigers had the momentum with a 21-20 lead entering the half.
Hillman picked up right where it left off in the second half, but the Wildcats continued to fight for the lead. Alpena spread the ball around a lot more during the third quarter, while Hillman relied on Taratuta.
His 41-point effort tied a previous mark of 41 set by Paul Bennett for Hillman.
Entering the fourth quarter the score was still tied, this time at 31-31.
After trailing since the first point of the game, Alpena regained the 32-31 lead in the fourth. Several lead changes occurred in the fourth quarter, but with Hillman down 46-44 with just seven seconds left, it needed a miracle.
The Tigers got just that when Taratuta was fouled. Taratuta went right up to the line and made both free throws, forcing overtime.
During the fourth quarter, Taratuta racked up an incredible 12 points out of the 15 scored that quarter.
Hillman continuously looked at its top scorer in overtime and the Wildcats could not stop him. Alpena managed to answer back almost every time it needed to. But clutch defense down the stretch saved Alpena as it picked up the 57-54 win.
“Certainly we had our work cut out for us, but I thought we really made them work for all of their points. Even Taratuta was forced into a lot of tough shots, he’s just a really good player,” Pintar said. “I thought Easton Srebnik stepped up to the challenge tonight and played great defense and I also thought the rest of the team was solid defensively,”
Even though the Tigers ended up taking the loss, this was Hillman coach Eric Muszynski’s first appearance as a varsity coach at Alpena High School. Muszynski graduated from Alpena High and previously played for the Wildcats.
Muszynski and his team knew this game would be a tough challenge, but ultimately he was very pleased with how they performed.
“In our last game we didn’t bring a lot of intensity, but tonight that was there all night. We gave a great effort and give all the credit to Alpena because they were a great team,” Muszynski said.
Alpena plays Glen Lake tonight.
Leading Alpena in scoring was Srebnik with 18 points, while Bright had 11. Hillman’s leading scorer was Taratuta and he finished with 41. The Tigers’ second leading scorer was Brenden Rouleau with seven.