Steinle Shares in Chapel

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Steinle Shares in Chapel

Jake Steinle is known as a caring and generous student. He has made a great impact on his fellow students during his time at Hillcrest through his thoughtful commentary and his consistent attention in caring for others. In this brief testimony he shares how God is currently molding and shaping him.

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FreeThrows Earn Comets Big Win in Overtime

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FreeThrows Earn Comets Big Win in Overtime

Few things are more rattling than free throws. Boisterous gyms can grow either suddenly still or insanely distracting in seconds, with all eyes on a player standing 15 feet from the backboard. Most players have an ingrained ritual that helps calm nerves as they work to earn a single point with a single shot. For Hillcrest, a series of single points lifted their score over a very talented and mentally tough Ortonville team Tuesday night. The Comets pushed the game into overtime and walked into the locker room with a 62-56 win.

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Potter's Chapel Gives Context to Hillcrest Experience

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Potter's Chapel Gives Context to Hillcrest Experience

Students streamed into chapel this morning to Mr. Peterson spinning a shapeless lump of clay on center stage. As he worked, he began to talk to them and they leaned forward to see what he would do/say next. From time to time, he dipped his hands in water and ran them over the clay as it circled ‘round and ‘round.

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Lady Comets All Smiles After Nail-Biting Win

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Lady Comets All Smiles After Nail-Biting Win

The Lady Comets huddled at mid-court Monday night with smiles beaming after beating Ashby by 1 point in their second win under interim Coach Zach Nersten. An 11 point deficit didn't keep the Comets from a powerful second half in beating the Arrows 59-57.

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Comets Win at Losing in Falling to Waubun

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Comets Win at Losing in Falling to Waubun

Coach Syverson went on to express respect for how the Hillcrest boys conducted themselves in the midst of extreme back-and-forth intensity. As the coaches were talking together, he pointed to the students and players who were helping stack folding chairs and picking up trash in the stands while waiting to load their bus for the ride home.

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Lady Comets and Christenson's Double-double Sets Pace for Comet Guys Win

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Lady Comets and Christenson's Double-double Sets Pace for Comet Guys Win

The second double header in four days saw the Lady Comets heat up the gym for the guys. Saturday night the Lady Comets overcame a 20 point deficit in Oak Grove, which saw the boys take the court and follow suit on their way to an exciting victory. Wednesday night was more of the same when Underwood made the trip to the Hillcrest gym in a neighborhood double-header. 

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Comets Sweep Podium at 20 Team Knowledgebowl Meet

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Comets Sweep Podium at 20 Team Knowledgebowl Meet

The Comets stood before a room of 100 of the region's smartest students with tints of red and blue reflecting on their smiles. The final awards of the day, marking the top places in the meet, carried Hillcrest's name which seemed to echo as the Comets took first place, with two other Hillcrest teams tying for second in the 20 team meet Tuesday.

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Comets Bench Puts up 19 in Victory After Cold Night on the Court

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Comets Bench Puts up 19 in Victory After Cold Night on the Court

Kyler Newman's street clothes replaced his Hillcrest uniform as he rested and watched his team grit out a hard fought game against Ashby last night. With Newman sitting next to the coaches for the game, Hillcrest looked down the bench and saw a number rise to the occasion despite surprisingly falling cold from the floor in shooting a mere 36%. Hillcrest relied on hard work and their defense in battling to a 55-43 victory.

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Nersten Earns First Coaching Win as Lavin Bolsters Comets with 22

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Nersten Earns First Coaching Win as Lavin Bolsters Comets with 22

Hanna Lavin came off a screen in the opening minutes after her team broke the full-court press. Confidence is marking the Comets under their new head coach Zach Nersten. When Lavin squared her shoulders she cast a three pointer that easily sailed through the net, starting the Comet scoring and setting a tone for hot shooting for the Comets in their 59-47 win. 

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Comet Lifts Eyes to Skies in Post-Christmas Wonder

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Comet Lifts Eyes to Skies in Post-Christmas Wonder

Our tiny planet hurtles through space at a tearing 67,000 miles an hour, spinning on its axis 365.25 times every year, without fail. We orbit a colossal ball of fire, 1,300,000 times larger than earth, 93,000,000 miles away. The night sky bursts with stars, showering us with brilliance. Truly “the heavens declare the glory of God the skies proclaim the works of his hands…”

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Baking Club Unites Student Body Around Cookies and Lefse

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Baking Club Unites Student Body Around Cookies and Lefse

Twenty pounds of potatoes became mountains of warm lefse nestled under clean, white dishtowels. Twenty-five loaves of French bread, kneaded and baked, cooled upon a stainless steel counter. Hundreds of gingerbread and sugar cookies, rolled, baked and decorated loaded countless trays on the table. This Sunday was the Cooking Club’s inaugural event and dozens of students participated in the floured frenzy.

Every flat surface of the kitchen and cafeteria was covered with various baking projects, and teams of students worked for hours to a loud soundtrack of classic Christmas music. Outside the high windows, snow fell steadily, adding to the coziness of the epicurean experience.

An American mom and grandma were on hand for the lefse training. This was a first for many Norwegian and domestic students. Lefse rolling, transfer and grilling is a delicate art, passed down through generations. There was much loud singing, the occasional attempt at harmony, and a lot of laughing. How fun to share culture at this blessed time of year when we celebrate the one thing that connects us more than any other--the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas from the Castle!

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Comets Grunt Out Last Second Shot to Win at WCA

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Comets Grunt Out Last Second Shot to Win at WCA

When Gregg Preston put the cap back on the marker and lifted his hand in the locker room to call his team to a final chant before hitting the court there was unique electricity in the air. The Comets had their season kick-off delayed from Tuesday due to a snow storm. The extra day of practice put them in place to battle one the regions hardest working teams in the West Central Area (WCA) Knights. When the final buzzer sounded fans worked to reorient themselves, having watched a game most expect to see during March Madness. The Comets won on a buzzer beater, 56-54.

For much of the first half the Comets and Knights worked to shake off cobwebs. Hillcrest is known for stifling defense and disciplined ball movement. But after a few possessions Gregg Preston needed to call a timeout. It seemed that the Comets had the ball for 8 possessions and gave the Knights 4 easy trips to the rim on the other end after Hillcrest turned the ball over. 

Settling in on offense, the Comets struggled to execute a disciplined attack at the basket. Shots weren't falling from outside like they were at the end of the 2016 run to make State. Hillcrest was 7-for-25 from behind the arc. An abysmal 28%. Working inside, Hillcrest wasn't much better. Their shooting consisted of pull-ups from the elbow and bunnies underneath. It was easy to see this was the first game of the season when Hillcrest went into the locker room down 22-25. When the night ended their stat sheets read a 19-for-56 clip for field goals. A 34% shooting night is uncommon for Hillcrest.

Hillcrest got off 81 shots throughout the night, while the Knights only cast 57. As Hillcrest stepped onto the court to start the second half there was a different air about them. Coach Preston seemed to institute a few rules for the Comets because their play was more focused, albeit the Comets looked tired.

A nip-and-tuck scoring push was underway from both Hillcrest and WCA. With both teams working to out hustle the other, back door cuts put players in awkward positions and sent the teams to the line where they worked to grab any points they could. The Knights had a rough time getting scoring going at the free throw line. Of the 26 trips Hillcrest granted WCA, the Knights only hit 10, marking a 38% mark for free throw shooting. Hillcrest was much better, where the Knights played with more disciplined footwork and only sent Hillcrest to the line 15 times, where they hit 11, going 73% in the free shots. 

WCA earned their trips to the free throw line through a steady attack of the paint. A few quick adjustments by the Comets cut down on the entry passes and the Knights implemented a different strategy. 

With time running down in the game Hillcrest found themselves playing from behind. Their help-side defense and execution on offense looked tentative as they reacted to the Knights passes instead of anticipating WCA's ball movement and offensive strategy.

With a little over a minute left in the game Hillcrest senior Sam Isaac found himself in the corner receiving a pass. A quick shot led to the Comets springing back on defense with the scoreboard in their favor, 52-49. WCA pulled the score even with an answer to Isaac's late game heroics, and with 40 seconds left on the clock Hillcrest began a march to end the game with a final second shot. 

Hillcrest set to working the ball around the perimeter, looking to take off enough time from the clock to get a shot within 10 seconds of play. Senior Sean McGuire stepped out to take a pass, knowing his post defender wouldn't step out in coverage. As he received the ball his hands instinctively went into a shooting position as they gripped the ball, and with over 30 seconds on the clock McGuire cast a 3-pointer and stepped outside the Comets' game plan.

Fortunately, Senior Daniel Preston out hustled a Knight defender, and crashed the glass to grab the rebound. Daniel's rebound was the most significant play for the Comets that night, pulling the game back into their reach as the entry pass found Kyler Newman on the wing and reset the Comet offense. 

Newman found a crease as he worked off seconds on the clock, splitting two defenders with an off-balance move, and found McGuire crashing the glass. Newman cut two defenders, bouncing a pass behind his defender, slipping the ball behind McGuire's defender as well, as Sean forced his shoulder behind that of the Knight post player to put his shoulders in line with the basket, catch the pass, and make a layup while being fouled. 

With two seconds on the clock McGuire stepped to the line with a 56-54 lead. In missing his free throw McGuire watched the Knights scramble for a full-court shot, but it was in vain as Hillcrest pulled out a gutsy win.

Kyler Newman led the scoring for the night, putting together 26 points in leading the Comet attack. McGuire added 11, Preston tacked on 8. Reggie Undseth contributed 5. Sam Isaac's three pointer with a minute left were his only points on the night. Isaac's defense helped the Comets keep the game close in addition to his clutch 3-pointer. Colin Erickson added 2, and Tommy Thompson made a free-throw.

Hillcrest has two home games next week before starting the Christmas break. Monday the Comets play Pelican Rapids, and Tuesday the face Ortonville. Game time for the varsity is set at 7:15pm.

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Lady Comets Start Scoring Engine in Season Opener

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Lady Comets Start Scoring Engine in Season Opener

The Lady Comets opened the season against a Henning team boasting six seniors. After falling behind and seeing a four point deficit on the scoreboard Sophomore forward Olivia Foss caught eyes with her teammates and started the Comets scoring engine.

Senior Hanna Lavin opened scoring for Hillcrest, confident in her slicing to the hoop with Foss trailing and cutting to position for a rebound. Fueled by the Comet proficiency in breaking the press, Foss found the lane open as the Comet guards worked to reverse the ball in the opening few series. Foss took advantage, finding lanes to cut to the hoop as Lavin, Susanna Preston, and Ruthanne Erickson worked backdoor cuts and created separation around the the three-point line. 

Senior Ruthanne Erickson is the Lady Comets' top outside threat, able to spot up as Lavin slices to the hoop with aggression. Susanna Preston is the game manager, controlling the offense and setting up plays as she surveys the court. Preston's ability to see passing lanes opened shots for Erickson and placed the ball in Lavin's hands as Foss and Senior Abigail Christenson crashed the boards.

Foss found scoring early in her hustle for rebounds. Her quick put-backs closed the gap for Hillcrest and gave the Lady Comets a 14 all tie minutes into the game. With the defense shifting, working to manage both Christenson and Foss in the paint, Hillcrest's guards were able to generate separation off screens where Ruthanne Erickson found easy scoring to pull Hillcrest up back to a 16 point tie midway through the first half. 

The Lady Comets play an aggressive half-court defense. A few quick fouls by Preston and Senior forward Anna Newman put the Henning Hornets at the line where they shot 52% on the night, capitalizing on Hillcrest's first game jitters. 

The Hornets put together a surge in scoring to close the first half. An 8 point run put the Comets on their toes as Hillcrest regrouped, putting together two simple free throws and stopping Henning on defense before the final buzzer sent the teams to the locker rooms. The score at half was 28-20.

Henning came out of the locker room determined to put distance between themselves and the Comets. A 12 point scoring had Hillcrest on their heels before Foss found the backboard and posted a two-pointer to pull the Comets within 20 points of the Hornets four minutes into the second half. 

The Comets kept with Henning through the rest of the half, keeping the Hornets' lead under 25. The Lady Comets are known for their resiliency, playing through the final buzzer. Stout defense turned created a few turnovers as Preston, Newman, and Erickson jumped into a full-court press to add points to the Comets' column and finish the game scoring. Erickson knocked down a three-pointer, Newman found a simple layup, and Preston ripped the ball from the Hornets at midcourt, finishing the game with a strong layup and the crowd hungry for another half of play.

Olivia Foss led the Comets with 21 points. Ruthanne Erickson hit one three-pointer and 3 long twos for a 10 point total at the end of her stat line. Foss' compadre in the paint, Abigail Christenson, finished with four points, keyed the entire night by the Hornet defense. Lavin, Preston, and Newman each contributed 2 points as the Comets closed their first game with their scoring engine still revving. The 60-41 loss was a warm-up for their season.

Hillcrest plays Brandon-Evansville Thursday, December 1 in Brandon before coming home again for a night game vs. Park Christian in the Student Activities Center at 7:15pm.

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Snow Day Marks First Winter Wonderland for Many

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Snow Day Marks First Winter Wonderland for Many

Drifting, whipping, sideways blowing, frozen crystals of ice...SNOW. Canceled classes marked a significant first for a number of our international students.

A daring group of girls braved the elements and walked to The Viking for breakfast before the sun rose. Other students could be seen all over campus, making and throwing snowballs, studying the process of snow-angel and snowman formation, and sliding around on the sidewalks in their shoes. But for a few the day of firsts made them look a little unconventional in enjoying the snow day.

One male Thailand student, who shall remain nameless, was found shoveling snow outside in his socks. A dean had to yell, “Paul--put some shoes on!” That student has subsequently spent a good five hours outside. With shoes on.

Many of the American and Norwegian students are less excited about the snow, but perfectly thrilled to have the day off school. Here is the scene inside the Student Union: Blanket-swaddled students nestled around the fireplace while various board and card games are strewn on every flat surface with students huddling around. Outside, the wind howls and the snow falls intermittently. Winter has arrived at the Castle.

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Girls Basketball Starts Season with Enriching Bible Camp Retreat

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Girls Basketball Starts Season with Enriching Bible Camp Retreat

Loons called to one another from across the lake, the stragglers reluctant to head south for winter. The ice-blue water lapped against the bare sand of the deserted beach and the trees rattled their naked branches against a late autumn breeze. Down a leaf-littered path in the woods beneath a cerulean sky, 19 girls stood facing a broad log/beam  suspended parallel between two larger trees a good six feet off the ground. The goal? To get each girl up and over the log, one at a time. How would this happen? Communication. Teamwork.

There were numerous unsuccessful attempts and much strategizing. They tried going over feet first. Backwards. Rolling up and across on their stomachs--ouch!! At last, a system was worked out as, one by one, the girls were boosted, muscled, and dragged over the beam. A couple of the girls made themselves human ladders and literally let their teammates walk all over them as they breached the log barrier. Balancing so high off the ground, trying to get a foot underneath their bodies proved to be a frightening position and some of the girls were visibly shaking. “You’re okay--I’ve got you,” was called out over and over.

Later, the team participated in a service project of raking and bagging leaves for the camp. The girls enjoyed amazing meals together and more group events that fostered trust and cooperation. Time was spent worshiping together around a campfire under a starlit sky. Several hours of the last morning found the team lounging in pajamas and affirming one another, eliciting many smiles, laughter, and a few tears.

How do these activities translate to life in general and time on the Bball court specifically, you might be asking?

1.They reinforce the reality that we were made for community. No one is strong alone. We need others because together we can do so much more than we can individually. There is no such thing as a one man team.

2.Everyone is important, not just a few. Naturally gifted individuals may stand out early on, but every person is necessary for the good of the whole. Every person has value. Every person has gifts and talents and brings something unique to the group. Those who cheer and encourage are as valuable as those who screen and score.

3.You can’t learn from others if you do all the talking. It may be that the quieter members of the group have the answers you need but you can’t hear them if you don’t stop talking. Listening to your teammates on the court can mean all the difference between a botched play and success. Others can see things you can’t. If you’re smart, you’ll listen to them.

Basically, I think the Take-Away from the retreat was a renewed appreciation for sisters in Christ--people who not only lead the way on the court but in the greater scope of life as well. These are the people we want to emulate--friends that display the heart of Jesus and point us to His finished work on the cross. People who make us want to be our Best Selves and, in all we do, bring honor and glory to God. It’s going to be a GREAT season of Comet Girls Basketball! Come on our and cheer us on!

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