Hillman boys aim to win NSL title outright

HILLMAN-There will be no shortage of motivation for the Hillman boys basketball team tonight.

Win against Posen and the Tigers clinch their first outright North Star League title in program history.

Not to mention a win would give the Tigers (17-1) their 14th win in a row and stretch their undefeated streak at home to 12 games.

“My kids have been amped for this game for two weeks talking about this game. When we play them it’s like a tournament game,” Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said. “There’s a chance to clinch and make school history-that in itself is motivation for these guys.”

Hillman breezed past the Vikings (10-6) in their first matchup of the season, winning 80-56 behind 12 three-pointers and a fast start. Mason VanPamel led Hillman with 30 points with 22 of those coming in the first half.

One more big offensive night could catapult VanPamel past 1,000 points for his career. He’s currently sixth all time in scoring and sits 32 points shy of 1,000 and will likely break Paul Bennett’s school record of 1,285 points next season.

VanPamel leads Hillman offensively with 18.7 points a game, he’s strong in other areas too. He’s second on the team in rebounds per game with 5.7 and leads the team with 5.1 assists per game.

Hillman has been one of the strongest teams in Northeast Michigan all season, but the Tigers are getting some attention at the state level too as they were ranked ninth in the latest Michigan AP poll.

In spite of their success, Hillman isn’t looking past Posen at all and Muszynski said all bets are off when the long and storied rivalry between the two schools is renewed.

The Vikings have done well under first-year coach Matt Ponik and are always a team to watch out for especially with senior center Nick Hincka leading Posen’s offense. Hincka leads the area with 24 points a game and Travis Sharpe and Leon Beccard have emerged as solid compliments to Hincka, regularly reaching double figures.

“We’ve always respected Posen’s tradition, but we’re building our own tradition now,” Muszynski said. “To be able to play Posen, with the magnitude of the rivalry, (it’s big). It’s always been a battle.”

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