Boys Basketball:Hillsdale holds off Terra Nova in back-and-forth, action-packed game

Early-season excitement

Hillsdale holds off Terra Nova in back-and-forth, action-packed game

By Nathan Mollat Daily Journal 


While the 3-point shot continues to be the future of basketball, there was a decided old-school feel to the Terra Nova-Hillsdale boys’ basketball matchup in San Mateo Tuesday night.

With the basketball season still in its infancy — this was the Tigers’ second game, while it was the season opener for the Knights — a player’s shooting stroke can still be a bit off. So while both teams struggled behind the 3-point line, the inside play of both squads was mostly on point.

Hillsdale road its inside game to a lead and then dialed up a long-distance connection that iced the game as the Knights held on for a 60-55 victory.

“I think (right now) we’re just trying to establish roles,” said Hillsdale head coach Brett Stevenson. “Find combinations that can play together. I learned a lot tonight.”

While Stevenson insists that his team is built to play the modern, uptempo, 3-point shooting style of game, for one night at least, it was the Knights’ bigs who shouldered most of the load. Senior forwards Zack Dwyer and Eric Bower did the bulk of the damage inside, cleaning up around the rim, knocking down mid-range jumpers and controlling the glass. Dywer scored a team-high 17 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Bower added 8 and 6, including five offensive boards.

Dwyer and Bower were not alone in finishing at or near the rim, however. A pair of sophomores, Jordan Berger and Junior Cotton, had their fair share of points near the basket. Cotton, a lightning quick guard who saw plenty of action at the varsity level last season, finished with 12 points, including several soaring layups. He also added 4 steals and 3 rebounds.

Berger worked hard around the basket. He started out the game just working the glass before he got into the flow offensively, he scored 8 points and grabbed 9 rebounds as the Knights outrebounded Terra Nova 39-35, including 12 offensive boards.

“Their bigs really hurt us inside,” said Terra Nova head coach Kenny Milch.

Terra Nova was led by senior combo Josh Milch, who showed equally adept on the perimeter and he did banging on the inside. He finished with a game-high 20 points and 10 boards, hitting a pair of 3s along the way. He showed a well-rounded game that featured plenty of drives to the basket. His younger brother Justin Milch, a freshman, was the only other Tiger to finish in double figures, scoring 11.

“We’re blending together some new faces with some returners,” Coach Milch said. “They’re meshing — at times.”

Terra Nova (1-1 overall) certainly meshed well in the first quarter. Down 10-7 with 4:11 to play in the first, the Tigers finished the period on a 16-2 to run. Ian Avery started the surge with a layup, followed by another inside-the-paint bucket from Josh Milch, who followed with a three-point play and a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 17-12 advantage. A pair of free throws from Chase McKnight and back-to-back fastbreak pull-up jumpers from Justin Milch gave Terra Nova a 23-12 lead after one period of play.

Hillsdale (1-0) turned the tables on the Tigers in the second quarter as the Knights scored the first eight points — all from within a foot of the basket — to close to 23-20, with Berger and Dwyer scoring four points apiece on three putbacks and a layup.

Josh Milch finally stopped the run with a coast-to-coast floater and the foul to push the Tigers’ lead back to six, 26-20. Terra Nova eventually pushed its lead to 32-26 with 1:46 left in the second quarter, but the Knights finished with a flourish, going on a 9-0 run to end the half. Cotton had a pair of steals converted into layups, while Seth Godfredsen knocked down the Knights’ only 3-pointer of the half to give Hillsdale a 35-32 lead at the break.

“We turned the ball over numerous times in that second quarter and they (the Knights) cashed in a high percentage of them,” Coach Milch said.

Hillsdale pushed its lead to six, 42-36, midway through the third quarter, but a 7-0 spurt from the Tigers gave them a 43-42 lead when Josh Milch scored on a layup off an inbounds play with just over a minute left in the third.

A Cotton jumper, however, gave the Knights a 46-45 lead going into the fourth.

The Knights opened the final period with the first five points to open up a 51-45 lead before Terra Nova made one final push as Josh Milch knocked down a jumper to begin a 9-2 Tigers run. Josh Milch capped the surge with a mid-range jumper to give the Tigers a 54-53 lead. A Dylan McAdams free throw gave Terra Nova a two-point lead, 55-53, with just under two minutes to play, but Hillsdale took the lead for good when Godtfredsen drained a 3-pointer from the right corner for a 56-55 Knights’ lead with 1:24 to play. Dwyer connected on a putback to put Hillsdale up 58-55 and Matt Chan iced the game with a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left.

“I thought we had a lot of chances in transition,” Stevenson said. “We think we have nine or 10 guys who can push, so we’re looking to get up and down the court.”

But it’s nice to know if you’re Hillsdale that you have an inside game to work if the outside shots aren’t falling.


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