Hot start propels Hillman to win

Huron center Evan Delke puts up a shot in fourth quarter action. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
Huron center Evan Delke puts up a shot in fourth quarter action. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

A hot start propelled the Hillman Tigers to a 69-54 win over the Hurons Thursday in Rogers City. The Hillman boys remained unbeaten this season by hitting their first four 3-point attempts to jump out to a 12-0 lead in the game’s first two minutes. After Huron coach Matt Ponik called timeout, the Hurons settled down, but played catch-up the rest of the way.

Rogers City's Jacob Hilla and HIllman's Gunnar Libby battle for a rebound in the Jan. 19 matchup. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
Rogers City’s Jacob Hilla and HIllman’s Gunnar Libby battle for a rebound in the Jan. 19 matchup. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

Buckets by seniors Matt Altman and Brendan Koss got the Huron on the scoreboard, as each team played aggressive defense.

A free throw by Koss, followed by another short banker from Koss, off a feed from Altman, cut the lead to seven. The Hurons showed they could break the press of Hillman, which gave it troubles in the opening minutes. Hillman went on a 7-2 run in the last 1:33 of the first quarter to lead 23-11 at the end of eight minutes.

Jumpers by Altman and Koss pulled the Hurons to within nine points before the Tigers caught fire again. This time the visitors used their speed to create turnovers and went on a 13-0 run to go up 37-18 with 3:18 left in the half. But the Hurons didn’t back down. Jacob Hilla drilled a three-pointer and Jacob Hein nailed a short jumper to stop the run. Hillman led 39-26 at halftime.

From there on out, the Hurons played even up with the Tigers, but could not overcome the quick start by the visitors. A lay-up by Altman cut the lead to eight at 43-35 but the Tigers responded with a 7-2 run to stretch it out again.

Trailing 52-41 after three quarters, the Hurons could get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.

“They caught fire right away and when you dig yourself a 12-0 hole right to start, its tough to come back. I told the boys in the timeouts that you an either respond and work hard and get back in this or curl up and let this game out of hand,” Ponik said.

The team’s response pleased him, as he knew Hillman would be a tough opponent.

“The effort was there. We just have to make better decisions down in the end to give us an even better chance,” he said.

Hilla paced the scoring attack with 12 points, including three 3-pointers. Koss had nine while Altman and Phil Grambau each scored eight points.

The Huron junior varsity notched a 54-33 win over Hillman as Donovann Franzoni scored 21. Ethan Hincka added 10 point for the Hurons.

Rogers City hosts Onaway Monday (Jan. 23).