Former Comets are liking the throwback look of the games Hillcrest is battling out on the court lately. In their home opener, the Comets smothered Brandon-Evansville, going on a 19-5 run to open the game as the athletic Chargers went to the bench in timeout after timeout to figure out how to break the Comets' defense. The second half held a different story for the Chargers.
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Many might not see beyond Newman's smiling face as he holds his 1000 point scoring sign. But what should follow in the conversation on scoring is the quiet confidence and focus that Kyler leads the team with. While scoring 1000 points is an incredible feat, the more impressive action may be what happens in the huddle at mid-court before each game.
There was a unique tension in the halls Monday as the Lady Comets moved from class to class with heightened expectation. A host of girls shared that they weren't ready for the season to end. One spoke of drinking 32 ounces of water in a half hour as she thought through the game. This sense of excitement carried to the court, where the Lady Comets took care of business Monday night with a 59-41 win over Rothsay.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Comets' fundamental approach to the game finds bumps and bruises in the midst of putting up big points against the Panthers. Tuesday night was more of the same for the Comets.
The Comets pent up energy for their home opener exploded on the court Monday night. Hillcrest smothered the Pelican Rapids Vikings who looked surprised to see Hillcrest leap to a double-digit lead with 16 minutes to go in the first half.
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.
Hillcrest's guard play worked to compensate for the Chargers' smothering defense. Senior Hanna Lavin added 7 points in working to create separation off the dribble.
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.
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!
The boys basketball team got after it this weekend against some tough competition at the Minnesota Pacesetter tournament in St. Cloud. Their hard work on the court was steadied by times of discipline in the locker room.
Each year Hillcrest athletes begin a long road of preparation. Routine open gym times have some students flipping tires on the football field while others are jumping rope or honing their jump shot for a sports season that is months away. When the balls slowly trickle away from the basket as the lights turn out Comet players are seen connecting in a unique way.
After the Pacesetter tournament this past weekend Hillcrest players huddled under a stairway to discuss their successes. As the conversation shifted to fundamentals that need more honing during the open gym times there was unique focus in the eyes of the players. A clarity came over the conversation because of a simple practice the team conducts after each summer gathering. They prayed.
During their prayer time the Comets actively submitted to the Lord. In prayer, players take a purposed step to acknowledging that they are not perfect. Prayer puts people in a posture of submission. And for the Comet ball team this submissive practice allows them to critique their play and understand their roles as they continue to workout their faith through disciplined steps in their daily life.
The tournament was a great opportunity for the players to gather in unity under the banner of Christ. The coaches drew the team to consider how Hillcrest basketball can be a microcosm of the body of believers and a witness to others. These small moments will create significant building blocks in the lives of these young men. It's one of the many practices that makes time at Hillcrest worth so much more than a diploma.
Fans could read Coach Gregg Preston's face as he walked into the Comet huddle after one minute of play Saturday night. The scoreboard showed Underwood with 9 hard earned points. Hillcrest didn't have any. With the 9 point deficit staring at the Comets, Coach Gregg Preston appeared to ask his team what they were planning do now. This style of coaching has his Comets undefeated and a favorite to win State after their 72-55 victory following Preston's huddle antics.
Underwood showed up to Concordia with a lot to play for. The Rocket seniors are known for their athleticism, having earned state berths for football in recent years. Their final push together was in meeting the undefeated Comets in their plight for a state championship. With Underwood shooting 57% on the night, it was clear the Rockets were not going to roll over for Hillcrest.
Underwood forced some faltering steps for the Comets in their march to Williams Arena. Underwood coach Jesse Arbuckle played for Gregg Preston on a team that earned second place in Williams Arena. Now facing Preston, Arbuckle put together a game plan that forced fans for Hillcrest to wrench their shirts throughout the first half.
Underwood worked to play up mismatches on the court, knowing the Comets were likely to force a few of their own. Rocket Senior Matt Biegler and Adam Thormodson fought for control of the paint, a place Hillcrest often establishes themselves early. Throughout the night both teams worked for second chances and to end offensive series under the rim. Hillcrest out-rebounded the Rockets by 6 when the final buzzer sounded.
When the teams entered the locker rooms at half time the score was 33-27. Underwood played some of their best Basketball in the season during their first half. Stiff defense forced Hillcrest to take shots that didn't fall. The Rockets keyed on Hillcrest senior Chris Tungseth, knowing him the center piece for Hillcrest and the sole person who can take over a game at will. However, Underwood's push of Tungseth into the paint with Biegler took Tungseth's game from the perimeter to the rim where he had a difficult time scoring. Tungseth shot a meager 31% on the night, finishing with 14 points and only making 2 of 6 free throws.
Anyone who knows Tungseth off the court realizes that the poor shooting night didn't phase his leadership for the Comets. The Senior stepped into a different role Saturday night, leading the Comets with assists and rebounds, pulling together a pair of steals as he urged his team to stand on his shoulders and put the game away.
Sean McGuire was key in stepping up to Tungseth's step back. McGuire was big for Hillcrest, pulling down 7 rebounds as he and Tungseth fought for extra possessions under the rim. He also led the team in steals and gave out three assists.
With the Comet big men holding back the wave of Underwood scoring, Hillcrest's guards stepped into a role they are accustomed to. Tommy Thompson displayed his iconic patience on the court, scoring 11 points on a number of pump fake follow ups where he forced defender to fly over his head as he reset for uncontested jump shots.
In stride with Thompson was Kyler Newman. As Thompson forced defenders to fly from fakes, Newman soared to challenge the Rockets. Pulling in 14 points for Hillcrest, Newman used his stutter-step to perfection throughout the night. After the first wave of Rocket defenders picked themselves off the court, Newman breezed into the second wave where he left the court early and redirected his body on a number of occasions to earn highlight reel points. After attacking the basket a few times, Newman kept the Rockets off balance by dishing the ball to earn 8 points for Hillcrest off his 4 assists.
With Hillcrest placing four players in double-digits, the game was decided most decisively on the defensive side of the floor. Hillcrest worked in unison to force Underwood to sit down as they fought to soar over the Comets. Quick hands and penetrating passing lanes earned Hillcrest 18 turnovers from Underwood. On the offensive side, Hillcrest continued their team play where their passing and cutting kept Underwood away. The Comets played near perfect Basketball, turning the ball over an eye-popping 2 times before the JV squad walked on the court in the final minute of play.
Coach Gregg Preston reported that his team played their best half of Basketball in the second half Saturday night. The complete team effort earned a second half scoring differential of 14 points over an Underwood team that played some of the best Basketball the North Section of 6A has seen in the tournament thus far.
Hillcrest plays Lake Park-Audubon (LPA) Monday at 7pm at Concordia College in Moorhead. LPA is matching a 20 game win streak with the Comets 26-0 record. The winner plays the winner of Battle Lake and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at 7pm on Friday, March 4 at Concordia College, Moorhead.
A steady drone of cheers followed Hillcrest to a win Thursday night against the Park Christian Falcons who played one of their best games of the season in a tournament atmosphere at Hillcrest Academy. The teams traded buckets and streaky scoring, entering half-time tied, giving many fans uncertainty of the outcome knowing anything can happen in tournament time.
A sea of red crested against the stands with every Comet steal and 3-point attempt. With every rising moment the gym windows rattled at the sounds of fans, who made the gym atmosphere electric. With the opening tip going to Park Christian, and a quick bucket for the Falcons, it was clear that the teams second face-off was going to be entertaining.
Park Christian stuck with Hillcrest throughout the night. A thirty-four-all tie was in favor of Park Christian with seconds remaining in the half. The teams stepped gingerly from 30, to 32, to 34 points with a minute before the half, battling for momentum going into the locker room. The tie gave both teams a chance to reset for the second half. Hillcrest desperately needed to reset the table.
The Comets struggled at times during the night. Park played with a smooth resolve on the court. Their team offense, with quick passing and boulder-like screens, gave the Falcons a sense of great ball control throughout the night, rendering a meager 7 steals for a Hillcrest team that is known for quick feet and breaking into passing lanes. Park's defense was difficult for the Comets to overcome, forcing 11 turnovers for a Comet team that traditionally has a better handle on the ball.
With a new 18 minutes on the court, Hillcrest jumped to control the second half of the game. Junior Sean McGuire posted 8 points for the Comets' in their first 3 possessions. McGuire soared through the air and pulled down important rebounds, grabbing 7 on the night, with timely shooting that earned him 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Following McGuire, Kyler Newman stepped in to help redirect the undefeated Comets. Newman's quick hands and smothering defense earned him 5 steals, but also placed him in foul trouble as the game wore on. Newman turned his intensity from the defensive side of the court into offensive opportunities, taking many of his steals coast-to-coast in what looked like a layup clinic. Newman ended the game with 18 points, earning 5 points at the free throw line where he made 5-of-8.
Free throws proved to be a difference maker for Hillcrest, granting the Comets opportunities to adjust their game with sideline coaching while also putting points on the board. The Comets hit 11-of-15 from the free throw line, a 73% stat line that bolstered their work in taking over the game in the second half.
Chris Tungseth led the Comets in regaining control of the game, leading all scoring with 29 points. Taking the ball up the court on a number of possessions, Chris directed traffic and steadily implemented an offense that benefitted Hillcrest's shooting guards. Chris led the team with 4 assists.
Park Christian stayed step-for-step with the Comets coming down the stretch. At the 3 minute mark it was still anyones game. However, following a couple of strong defensive stands and some big shots falling for the Comets, Park Christian was unable to leap to the level Hillcrest brought the game. In the closing minutes Hillcrest's sharp shooting and collapsing defense put a 10 point margin in place that Park couldn't break through. When the buzzer sounded Hillcrest was on top by 14, 74-60.
Hillcrest plays Underwood Saturday at 6pm in Concordia as they continue their march in playoffs. The Comets remain undefeated, something they are looking to retain as they work to play in Williams arena in March.
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.
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.