Comet buckets come in bunches for Tungseth. The young man started the year for Hillcrest with strong statements, hitting 3-pointers that are 5 feet behind the line and dominating the paint with his quick jumping and smooth finish. But his finesse on the court is largely understated recently as the Comets continue their winning ways. Tungseth is allowing the team to develop around him, a clear example in the game he scored his 1000th point Tuesday, making a simple layup to achieve the benchmark as he walked off the court with a pedestrian 16 points.
Tungseth runs the court with a punishing style, beating the basketball to the ground as he dribbles, which positioned him as the Comet leader on the court. His style earned him a scoring title where he scored 44 points in front of a home crowd in January. But Tuesday night he watched his team jump out to a 55-16 lead in the first quarter and stepped into the background. Pulling down 5 defensive rebounds and giving out 3 assists, Tungseth set the tone for the game with his footwork, stealing the ball 4 times in the game.
As Tungseth is watching his underclassmen friends step up, he cheered on fellow senior Jordan Foss in likely the most important game the Comets have played this season. Tungseth struggled versus Battle Lake, and his fellow senior Jordan Foss hit big time shots that have usually gone to Tungseth this season. Tuesday night Foss watched his team leader pull in a steal and sprint to an uncontested layup as Tungseth scored his 1000th point of his career at Hillcrest. The tandem senior leaders provide an incubator for the Comet underclassmen, who were on display in Tuesday's game following Tungseth's scoring accolade.
Kyler Newman is looking forward to the passing of the baton this year. After a big game in Battle Lake that proved the difference for the Comets, Newman put together a strong showing in Rothsay with 20 points. The Junior guard earned 17 of his points in the first half, where Hillcrest set the tone for the game with stifling defense.
Reggie Undseth is at Newman's heels in the development of the Comet team that is making a run at state. The Junior defensive specialist hauled in 7 steals on the night, dishing 4 assists and pulling down 5 rebounds as he scored 10 points. Undseth and Newman are benefitting from Tungseth's unselfish leadership, evident in the team earning 18 assists on the night.
Hillcrest's Junior class is waiting in the wings, bolstering a strong lineup of young men who play hard and know how to fulfill their roles. The Comets stole the ball 21 times on the night, pulling down 28 rebounds in a completely dominant game. Juniors Tommy Thompson and Sean McGuire are looking forward to more games in March, after they scored 10 and 8 points respectively while the Comets entered a defensive shut-down game plan in the second half. Where Hillcrest emerged with 55 points to start the final period, they ended the night by only adding 21 more before the final buzzer. They held Rothsay to a meager 9 points in the second half, a feat rarely seen in high school sports.
As the Comets look forward to playoffs they know players like Nate Frustol and Sean McGuire will be integral. The Comet backcourt dominates games with Tungseth and Newman clearly holding an athletic advantage over every team Hillcrest played this year. However, the front court battles for rebounds is proving to be a hallmark of Hillcrest wins, and Frustol and McGuire quietly pull in boards and march down the court as they complete their important, but less celebrated tasks for their undefeated team that is holding out hope for a perfect season.
Hillcrest travels to Ortonville on Friday in closing the season. They look forward to their first playoff game next Thursday.