HILLMAN-Thursday was a big night for Hillman's Mason VanPamel.
The Tigers' sophomore guard scored a career-high 31 points in a 50-34 victory over the Au Gres on Thursday.
The game started quickly for Hillman, scoring just a little under a minute into the game. This was the first of VanPamel's baskets on the night.
Au Gres was especially effective on rebounds while Hillman put a lot of defensive pressure on AuGres, creating steals that Hillman head coach Eric Muszynski said were key to the victory.
"At the beginning of the year, I stressed the importance of defense. We got some big offensive talent on the team but I've been telling them it's defense that wins championships and you can see that tonight. We had a lot more fire and passion defensively than we have in the past," he said.
The next basket came from VanPamel, who hit the first of his four three-pointers. Brenden Zimmer also contributed a basket and a field goal while Hunter Fessler hit two free throws.
Au Gres struggled to create an effective offensive strategy against Hillman's defense. The Wolverines fought hard and got a lot of rebounds off of missed Hillman layups and shots but couldn't convert, trailing 12-2 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw continued Hillman dominance offensively and defensively. Ty Jones hit a basket just over a minute in the quarter but Au Gres' Brett Maser answered back 10 seconds later.
The patterns from the first quarter continued as Au Gres continued to struggle offensively against Hillman's 3-2 zone, but successfully snatched rebounds.
Au Gres coach Gordie Ostrander said this was one of the toughest parts of the game.
"This was the first time we saw a defense like this and the kind of things we normally run in similar situations weren't working," he said.
Maser hit another basket in the period while Kyle Swartz hit a three with a minute and a half left, but the Wolverines trailed 23-10 at the half.
The third quarter belonged squarely to VanPamel who scored 17 points in the period. Jones hit one of two free throws to add to Hillman's score. VanPamel was especially effective with three pointers, hitting three in just under two minutes.
The Wolverines were able to score 13 points in the third quarter, their highest scoring quarter to that point. However, the third quarter still ended with Hillman up 41-21.
The fourth quarter saw a more effective AuGres offense and it was the only quarter in which it outscored Hillman, scoring 13 to Hillman's nine. Maser hit two baskets in the quarter while Grant Shutte hit two of two free throws.
VanPamel hit three baskets in the period and Jones added a basket and a free throw.
Ostrander commented on his team's slow start, which hurt them late in the game.
"The break was really tough on us and we're missing our best inside player. We started really slow tonight and didn't really get into it until the fourth quarter. That's not to take anything from Hillman as they pressured us constantly and played excellently tonight," he said.
Muszynski pointed out a few players that played well for the night.
"Dylan had nine rebounds while Ty and Hunter really opened up a lot of fast breaks tonight. It was a total team effort but those three really played well tonight," he said.
Hillman's victory puts it at 4-2 overall with a 3-1 North Star League record. Au Gres is now 3-4 overall with a 2-2 NSL record. Hillman hosts Fairview on Monday while AuGres travels to Mio.
Hillman's junior varsity also won against AuGres 44-42. Top scorers for Hillman included Josh Reinbold with 10 and David Julka III with eight. Au Gres' top scorer was Adrian Sanborn with 22 points.
Hillman (50): D. Ross 1-0-0-2: T. Jones 2-2-4-6: J. LaFleche 1-0-0-2: M. VanPamel 13-1-2-31: B. Zimmer 2-1-2-5: D. Olschanski 1-0-0-2: H. Fessler 0-2-2-2.
AuGres-Sims (34): B. Maser 8-0-0-16: D. Wiess 1-0-0-2: B. Hiveley 1-0-0-2: G. Schutte 1-2-2-4: K. Swartz 1-0-2-3: R. Caulfield 0-2-4-2: C. Swaffield 2-0-0-4: J. Pendred 0-1-2-1.