Hillcrest closed out their boys’ basketball regular season schedule with a 59-45 win in Pelican Rapids on Friday night. The Comets trailed 25-22 at the half, but took control in the second half as they outscored the Vikings 37-20 over the final 18 minutes of play.
“Great battle tonight in Pelican,” stated Hillcrest Head Coach Ryan Garvin. “I was very proud of our physicality and our composure for much of this game. Pelican is just over .500, but they’ve been in so many close games that their record is, we think, deceiving. They are physical, they defend the perimeter well, they’re great on-ball defenders, and they have inside/outside pieces that make them hard to defend. It was crucial that we matched them early to give ourselves the confidence that we could play with them and we did just that.”
Erik Bjorndahl came off the bench and scored all 16 of his points in the second half for the Comets. Noah Brumfield finished with 21 points and 7 rebounds, Luke Christensen had 14 points and 8 rebounds, and Hillcrest made 18-of-19 free throws on the night.
“I thought our ball movement on offense was pretty good for much of the first half, but we just missed high percentage, in-rhythm shots,” noted Coach Garvin. Hunter Williams found spots in our defense to get some paint touches, but both Matthew Knutson and Preston Berge made him work hard for everything he got around the rim. In the second half, thanks to Preston Berge’s in-game suggestion, we made some adjustments to how we thought we could continue to make every interior effort difficult for the Vikings. I’d have to say that Gabe Swedenburg’s perimeter defense was the key to our success on the defensive side of the ball. He was the epitome of sacrifice for his team tonight. Erik Bjorndahl made some good decisions with the ball, defended the way we need him to defend, but also hit four big three-pointers to put us ahead and ultimately extend our lead. We’re going to need him to handle the ball and defend the way he did tonight as we move into playoffs.”
Hunter Williams led the Vikings with 16 points.
“Tough loss for us tonight at home for our Senior Night,” commented Pelican Rapids Head Coach John Gullingsrud. “We honored our seven seniors- Peyton Blakeway, Tanner Tollerud, Hunter Williams, Tydan Marich, Brady Petznick, Jayden Ripley, and Ian Fahje before the game tonight and were hoping the energy of that would carry over but unfortunately it didn’t happen. We came out a little flat and overall Hillcrest was quicker and tougher than us tonight. They went on a run midway through the second half to open up a lead and we weren’t able to get back in it after that.”
Pelican Rapids will host Perham on Saturday in their regular season finale.