Knocking em down

HILLMAN-No one has been able to slow down the Hillman boys basketball team in the early part of the season and Wolverine became the latest team to try and fail on Thursday.

Mason VanPamel scored 16 points, Ty Jones added 13 and Hillman improved to 3-0 after a 73-29 rout of the Wildcats at Hillman High School.

Despite some uneven play in the first few minutes of the game, the Tigers eventually found their footing and were off and running after taking a 28-7 lead after the first eight minutes.

Through three games, the Tigers are averaging more than 75 points a game and haven’t run into much trouble while dominating their opponents with a high-powered offense.

“One thing we’re doing right now as a team is playing as a team. we’ve got four of five guys that are capable of double figures-Mason, Ty, Mike Klein, Brenden Zimmer’s been right around eight or nine points and Dylan Ross-we haven’t seen the beginning of what Ross can do-so it’s promising on the offensive end,” Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said.

VanPamel found his stroke early, knocking down most of his shots in the first quarter for 13 points. He was deadly from three-point range, knocking down one from way outside, sinking one with a hand in his face and hitting another while he was wide open on the right side of the arc.

Wolverine forced seven turnovers in the first quarter, but Hillman was just as efficient at getting the ball back and was able to overcome some early struggles and use its athleticism to pull away from the Wildcats.

“In the beginning of the game, there were a couple times where we were out of place on the defensive end. We had seven turnovers in the first quarter, 11 in the first half, so some of that was becoming a little more glaring,” Muszynski said. “We weren’t capitalizing on some of the turnovers that we forced them into.”

Zimmer added nine points for Hillman, Klein and Travis Powers each had eight and Ross had six points to go along with seven rebounds and six steals.

Michael McNeil paced Wolverine with seven points.

While VanPamel ruled the first quarter for Hillman, Zimmer, Klein took over the second quarter and Jones and Powers led the way in the second half. The Tigers held Wolverine scoreless for nearly five minutes between the end of the first quarter and a good chunk of the second quarter, while putting together a 17-0 run.

Hillman led 52-15 at halftime and 65-22 after three quarters.

With Hillman’s starters sitting for a large part of the second half, the Tigers’ bench got some significant playing time and came through offensively while keeping the Wildcats at bay.

Wolverine’s struggles continued into the fourth quarter. With 5:30 to play, Garrett Farkas stole a pass from David Julka for a wide open lay-up opportunity and whiffed on it. Two minutes later, a shot from CJ Ogden rimmed out and Julka took it back the other way and drained a three-pointer to give Hillman a 71-22 lead.

Muszynski has been pleased with his team’s effort thus far, but said the Tigers will need to iron out even the smallest kinks if they hope to accomplish some of their goals this season, namely winning the North Star League title and putting together a playoff run.

“Wolverine did expose some things early on and fortunately for us, we’re pretty athletic and sometimes some of these flaws we have on defense can be overshadowed by our athleticism,” Muszynski said. “As the season goes on and we move towards some of the things we want to accomplish, we need to start eliminating some of the small problems.”

Hillman returns to action on Dec. 30 against Rudyard at home.

HILLMAN (73): M. VanPamel 5 3-4 16; Ross 3 0-0 7; Jones 4 5-5 13; Zimmer 4 1-1 9; Libby 2 1-2 6; Powers 4 0-1 8; Julka 2 0-1 5; Klein 2 3-4 8; Steinke 0 0-1 0; Henigan 1 0-0 2.

WOLVERINE (29): B, McCauley 3 0-0 6; M. McNeil 3 0-0 7; W. Goodard 0 1-2 1; G. Farkas 2 0-0 4; A. Ashenfelter 2 0-0 4; T. Moore 0 2-2 2; C. Ogden 1 0-0 2; E. Andrews 1 0-0 3.

James Andersen can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.