Hillman, Onaway clash for district championship
By JONNY ZAWACKI
News Sports Writer
Tonight’s class D district championship matchup between the Hillman Tigers and Onaway Cardinals has all the makings of being an action packed game from start to finish.
Both teams come into the title game with impressive resumes, as Hillman continues its quest for perfection as they come into the meeting with an unblemished 22-0 record, which is the first time in the schools history that they have achieved such a milestone.
Onaway will enter the contest holding an impressive 18-4 overall record on the year. The Cardinals four losses on the year came against just two teams, Bellaire and Johannesburg-Lewiston, both who finished ahead of Onaway in the Ski Valley Conference and have a combined 39-4 record to this point.
Both Onaway and Hillman cruised into the district final as the Tigers rolled past Posen and Rogers City earlier in the week, while the Cardinals easily took care of Vanderbilt and Wolverine.
On paper this looks like it could very well be a fast paced, high scoring affair between two evenly matched teams. Throughout the first two district games, Hillman scored a total of 145 points, while Onaway poured in 144 points of their own.
Each team has a handful of quality players that makes this matchup so much more intriguing. Hillman runs 10 players deep and will need to continue to get great play out of senior Dylan Steinke and junior Gunnar Libby who have scored a combined 70 points in the first two district games. Sophomore Brandon Banks will look to keep up his sharpshooting from beyond the three point line and the Tigers will look to continue getting a solid effort from big men Kyle McLaren and Kory Henigan as well as getting a good all around effort from Billy Kolcan, Andrew Funk and Seth Knaggs.
“Onaway has been on our radar all year and we have been preparing for them. We’re familiar with them and they’re familiar with us so there probably won’t be any surprises heading into the game. We’ll see who has the desire and who has the passion and hopefully we can be that team and come away with another district championship,” Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said.
Onaway is a senior laden team, led by two outstanding guards in Joe Sigsby and Cortez Washington. Sigsby is averaging just over 15 points through the first two postseason games and will need to be a huge factor, along with the teams other dynamic senior in Brad Brewbaker if the Cardinals hope to keep their season alive tonight.
Onaway gives Hillman a matchup that they have not yet seen this season, as the Cardinals possess much of the same speed, depth and athleticism that the Tigers do.
Along with Sigsby, Washington and Brewbaker, the Cardinals will also rely heavily on the play of seniors Billy Moran, Morgan McLean and Derick Wregglesworth, along with junior Keaton Brewer.
“We know Hillman is a good team. We’re going to try and move the ball, contain their speed and try to slow them down. We’ve been planning for this game all year and we’re looking forward to it,” Onaway coach Eddy Szymoniak said.
One team will look to repeat history, while the other looks to make some, as Hillman has ended Onaway’s season each of the last two years, including a district championship win in 2014.