Another trophy in the case
Hillman captures NSL title for fifth straight year
HILLMAN — For the fifth year in a row, the North Star League championship belongs to Hillman.
The Tigers secured at least a share of the league title with a 63-50 victory over Oscoda on Tuesday and moved to 14-0 overall on the year and 11-0 in league play.
“These league titles are really special. Every time you start up a season, it’s one of our first goals and something that we strive for here. They’re hard to get and I know we’ve had a lot of success over the years, but it’s a grind each and every day and our league gets better every year and we’ve had a lot of young teams that have pushed us all year and luckily we’ve had a veteran group and we’ve been able to get our younger guys some experience and game time throughout the season,” Hillman head coach Eric Muszynski said. “These championships never get old and you think back to day one, it’s great when you set goals and achieve them. I’m really proud of my guys, I’m proud of the community and the parents. I’m glad we’re able to put another trophy in the case.”
The Tigers were fired up from the opening tip and were energized by a jam packed home crowd.
Hillman jumped out to ten point lead in the first quarter and never looked back as they led from start to finish on a night where they knew what was at stake.
The Tigers continued to build on their lead late in the first half as they went on a 12-0 run to grab a 20 point lead. Oscoda was able to close the gap in the final minutes, but still found themselves trailing 33-20 after two quarters.
“We knew coming in that this was going to be a tough game. Oscoda had a lot of momentum coming into the game and it’s just awesome to be able to clinch a part of the conference today against a tough Oscoda squad,” Muszynski said. “At times tonight we bumped the lead up to 20 a few times and they got themselves back in it a little bit. We really focused on shutting down the perimeter and the most impressive thing with this group is I do a lot of coaching, but they’re doing a lot of coaching on the floor and starting to be more vocal. That’s when teams start to take off when they’re able to do that.”
Hillman was able to maintain its double digit lead throughout the third quarter and gained even more momentum as Jared Juergens got a jump shot to fall at the buzzer to give the Tigers a 49-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter and from there, the home team was able to coast to another win.
All five of Hillman’s starters scored in double figures as the Tigers were led by Andrew Funk who had 14 points. Juergens finished the night with 13 points, Kory Henigan added 12 and Billy Kolcan and Brandon Banks each scored 11 points apiece.
“This senior class have been apart of four conference championships. To spend 80 plus games with this group and tell them we will get there, it really is a love, hate relationship and it is every year. We promise each other every year we want to get back to this spot and we do and tonight was just another example of us setting goals and getting there,” Muszynski said.
Oscoda was led by Brayden Mallak who poured in a game high 15 points. Owen Franklin added nine points and Grant Huebel chipped in with seven points.
The Owls fall to 11-5 overall on the year and 8-4 in NSL play. Oscoda will be back in action on Friday when they travel to Alcona.
Hillman will travel to Rogers City on Friday where they will look to secure an outright league title with a win against the Hurons.
BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free throws made/Free throws attempted/Total points
HILLMAN (63): A. Funk 5 0-0 14; B. Banks 5 0-0 11; B. Kolcan 5 1-2 11; J. Juergens 6 0-0 13; K. Henigan 5 2-2 12; N. Taratuta 1 0-0 2.
OSCODA (50): N. Nagel 1 2-4 5; B. Mallak 5 1-1 15; O. Franklin 3 2-2 9; G. Kellstrom 2 0-0 5; G. Huebel 2 3-6 7; T. Lamrock 3 0-0 6; J. Church 1 1-2 3.