The Hillman boys basketball team put together an impressive March performance on its way to a dominant 74-60 victory over Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary in a Division 4 regional semifinal contest at Deckerville High School.
It’s a given that Hillman star Trenton Taratuta will lead the Tigers in scoring from here on out, the question is will there be enough scoring after Taratuta?
That question was answered Monday as Hillman put together a total team effort en route to a decisive win to advance in the Division 4 boys basketball tournament.
“The deeper we go in these playoffs, we’re going to need guys to step up and you saw several guys step up tonight,” Hillman coach Eric Muszynski said. “Trenton got it going early and as the game went on more guys got comfortable. Our intensity was good right from the opening tip.”
Both teams went back and forth in the opening minutes of the contest.
The Cardinals found success scoring inside early and held a 10-6 lead, but Hillman responded with nine unanswered points on three straight shots from beyond the long line, including a pair from Taratuta who was red-hot early, pouring in 15 first quarter points as the Tigers closed the quarter strong and grabbed all of the moment when A.J. Jones stole an inbound pass and let a shot fly from three-quarter court and banked it in to give the Tigers a 25-15 lead after one and send the Hillman crowd into a frenzy.
The Tigers built on their momentum and dominated the second quarter, putting together what was an all-around stellar team effort as Hillman got contributions across the board to put the Cardinals in a huge hole by taking full control of the game as the Tigers held a commanding 43-22 lead at the break.
Along with Taratuta’s 26 game-high points, the Tigers were led by Brenden Rouleau who poured in 15 points off the bench. Caleb Hively added 10 points, Jones finished with nine points and Braylon Firman and Brody Appelgren each chipped in with seven points.
The Tigers maintained their lead throughout the third and Taratuta scored inside, outside and even threw down a one-handed jam late in the third quarter as Hillman held a 58-43 lead after three.
The Tigers scored seven unanswered to begin the fourth to retake a 21-point lead and coast to the finish line in a game that was never in much doubt after the opening quarter.
Hillman advances to Wednesday’s regional championship game at 7:00 p.m. in Deckerville against the Irish of Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart with an opportunity to claim its first regional crown since 2018.