Playing to strengths

HILLMAN-With a talented group of shooters on this year’s squad, the Hillman boys basketball team isn’t afraid to take some chances from beyond the arc.

The Tigers’ outside shooting prowess paid off in a big way on Monday, as Hillman hit eight three-pointers in a 46-34 win over Fairview.

Mason VanPamel and Ty Jones hit four treys each for Hillman (5-2 overall, 4-1 North Star League) and finished with 19 points and 12 points respectively.

Hillman got four treys in each half and used its outside shooting advantage to take a 24-15 lead at the half.

While three-pointers are a key piece of the Tigers’ offense, Hillman coach Eric Muszynski felt his team relied perhaps a bit too much on outside shots, pointing out that the Tigers only shot around 30 percent for the game.

“That’s one thing that this year’s team, it is a dynamic that we have. We’re able to spread the floor a little more and play that deep game more than we have the last two years,” Muszynski said. “When you’re on, it’s easy going, when you’re off it’s a struggle and I thought tonight we did settle for maybe too many three pointers and there’s times when we needed easy buckets.”

A pair of quick baskets by Kasson Willobee shrunk Hillman’s lead to five with 5:40 left in the third quarter, but Hillman quickly distanced itself again with a 9-0 run that left the Tigers with a 33-19 lead.

Willobee, who led Fairview (2-4 overall, 2-3 NSL) with 16 points, scored 10 of them in the third quarter, including six in the final three and a half minutes when a 8-0 stretch by the Eagles to end the period left them trailing by only six, 33-27.

Muszynski was happy to get the win, which keeps the Tigers in second place in the North Star League, but lamented his team’s inabilty to add to its lead early in the second half.

“Sometimes you win ugly and the guys definitely kind of nestled in, we got stops when we needed to, we just weren’t able to extend the lead,” Muszynski said. “I thought tonight we played a little sloppy at times. We really struggled with those guys. Offensively Fairview did a nice job switching (up defenses) and it threw our guys for a loop a little bit.”

Hillman opened its lead back up to 14 with a short run to open the fourth quarter, but a quick trey from Austin Handrich and a follow-up basket from Willobee cut the lead to nine with just over a minute remaining. VanPamel then put the game out of reach with a triple and Brendan Zimmer added a follow-up basket.

For the Eagles, while they might have puzzled Hillman a little defensively, offensively Fairview had very little consistency and struggled to hang on to the ball at key times which resulted in some easy Hillman baskets.

“Somehow we’ve got to find some emotion. We play with very little emotion and we have to get past that. We had down to six or something at the end of the third quarter and we weren’t excited about it,” Fairview coach Rick Ebert said. “They’re not a team yet, there’s five individuals on the floor right now and we’re capable, we’ve got some nice players out there, but the strength is in the team and we don’t have that yet.”

Hillman plays at Posen on Thursday.

Hillman’s JV team defeated Fairview 54-30. Kyle Henigan led the Tigers with 17 points and Harold Cummings paced Fairview with 10 points.

HILLMAN (46): Ross 2 0-0 4; Fessler 3 1-2 7; VanPamel 7 1-2 19; Jones 4 0-0 12; M. Olschanski 1 0-0 2; Zimmer 1 0-0 2.

FAIRVIEW (34): Haskin 3 0-0 7; Handrich 2 0-0 5; Szubelak 1 2-2 4; Willobee 7 1-1 16; Yoder 1 0-0 2.