The H.I.T. division 1A championship game launched into action with hundreds of eyes on the two competing teams. Both teams stood poised, ready for the title, bringing two days full of success into their evening championship game. The matchup will go down in the history books of the Hillcrest Invitational Tournament, marking the 49th annual weekend where 84 games were played in an effort to unite the Church of the Lutheran Brethren around the game of Basketball.
The Hillcrest Invitational Tournament, commonly known as H.I.T.'s, unites alumni, local churches, family and friends from coast-to-coast each year. Since the first gathering 49 years ago, area churches from New York, to California have descended on Fergus Falls to play basketball in area gyms, creating an iconic event that is a special part of the fabric of Hillcrest Academy.
Hillcrest students watched as players arrived in church vans and buses. Icy Hot and knee braces emerged from worn duffle bags as men and women gathered, giving hugs and telling stories of their time at Hillcrest. The weekend is a special time for alumni and friends of Hillcrest to gather around and reconnect.
This year a number of Hillcrest students pulled teams together to be a part of the action. Norway was represented, bearing jerseys with their team name, The Trolls, made up of this year’s Danielsen students. Team Korea’s roster bore the name of only three Koreans. Students from China, Canada, India and the United States. The two prominent international cultures of Hillcrest left their mark on the tournament. Unfortunately, neither team came out on top of their group. Jeehoon Park, Team Korea's captain, said, “We tried, but it just didn’t work. It’s not about winning the game, so it was just fun to play with a bunch of people.“
The 1A championship game intrigued everyone’s interest. The fierce competition and skill of Triumph NDSU and Toronto 3 was proven on the court. Matching each other point for point throughout much of the first half, the game seemed looked like it could go into double overtime. However, during the final minute of the gameToronto 3 pulled away with heroic shooting and two important steals. Iconic white H.I.T. Champion hats emerged from behind the score board as each team posed for pictures to post on social media and display at church the following Sunday.
Anticipating next year’s 50th annual tournament, 2016 calendars have been marked and many more teams are gathering for the celebration of the important event for Hillcrest Academy.