2016 is a record setting season for the Hillcrest Comets. Coach Gregg Preston earned his 400th win, their single game scoring record was defeated, they added another 1000 point scorer to their record books, and they are entering playoffs as a favorite in their section having finished the year undefeated with a 74-61 win in Ortonville.
There are likely to be tales told in coming years of the Comets' focus this season. Little things working behind the scenes have propelled an athletically average team in the State to a number 2 ranking across all Class A teams. Parent and Pastor Mark Tungseth is taking the Comets through the book of James for the teams' Bible study. The group has fortified around this study to care for the school they represent, hosting special team prayer times for friends in the school. They sought to encourage their girls' team this year, where each player selected a female basketball player to pray for throughout the season. During double-header games shared with the girls, the young men for the Comets told the ladies what they are praying for and specific character traits they appreciate in each of the girls. Coach Gregg Preston has spent some days more focused on how his team acts off the court than correcting their on court habits.
All of the extra work in the locker room and around prayer and the Bible has fortified the Comets to play some of the best team basketball in the State. Friday night was no exception. As Chris Tungseth emerged from the locker room as a clear focal point for Ortonville, a host of Juniors followed his footsteps, revealing a team that is multifaceted.
Trailing behind Tungseth was Junior Sean McGuire. His consistent play is deceptive for many teams, where McGuire slips behind defenders and quietly shuffles his way to open spots on the court while Tungseth punishes the ball with his dribble. Laser passes from Tungseth to McGuire are a reversal from the football season, where McGuire puts in easy bunnies hits big time three pointers. Sean had 10 points on the night, while pulling down 8 rebounds.
Behind McGuire, a host of Comet guards walked out from the locker room. This is the strength of the Comets. Reggie Undseth, Kyler Newman, and Tommy Thompson each offer a unique presence on the court. Thompson brings a quiet confidence to the court, never looking rattled and always popping up quickly when he's been pushed or knocked down. His 13 points and 7 assists showed his value as the Comets' chief ball handler. Newman adds an off-beat attack that is hard to contain. He added 17 points on Friday night. Reggie Undseth is clearly one of the hardest workers for the Comets. His feet never stop moving and he is consistently where the action is on the basketball court. He added 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals to the Comet stat line for a complete game provided by a supporting cast of Juniors as Chris Tungseth looks to make one final run at a state title.
Tungseth put together 19 points with 6 rebounds for Hillcrest. His leadership is clearly seen as he gives insight to coaches on the bench and directs traffic while on the court. His scoring title, 1000 points, and now finishing the season undefeated is a fairytale story being written for the Senior who is hoping to continue playing Basketball with his close-knit team well into March.
The Comets start playoffs at 7pm on Thursday vs. either Rothsay or Park Christian at Hillcrest Academy.