Viva Hill; Hilton junior helps Cadets clinch Division I title

Tah’Jae Hill drives baseline during second-half action, Thursday night.

By JOHN LIKANJE

FAIRPORT, N.Y. – Improbable.

With 7.3 seconds remaining, Tah’Jae Hill inbounded the ball. The junior guard received the rock back from Noah Malta and dribbled across the floor. Hill sized up his defender, took a stutter step to his left and flicked a shot from 25 feet toward the basket. The ball swished through the net right as the final buzzer sounded.

Immediately, the entire Hilton bench ran onto the court and mobbed Hill to celebrate the division-clinching 58-57 victory over Fairport.

“There was no play,” Hill said after Hilton won the Monroe County Division I title. “It was just all confidence and have heart that you can make that shot.

“Everyone was just saying shoot it,” the junior guard continued. “And I just see it open and I just shot it and it just happened to go in.”

“That shot he hit was insane,” Hilton head coach Troy Prince said. “You feel like we got something special behind us.”

 

 

With the bucket, Hill finished with a team-high 25 points. The junior guard poured 18 in the second half, including 16 in the final five and a half minutes of the game on a trio of layups-one for a three-point play, a pair of long-range shots and 4-of-5 shooting from the free throw line.

“I had to let it come to me,” Hill explained on his second half surge. “Early in the game, I was rushing shots. I wasn’t really getting my teammates involved. Me just keeping my composure, just trusting my teammates will get me the ball, just finding the open spots and finding the gaps. Just keep attacking and going downhill.”

“He got going in transition,” Prince said of his junior guard. ” And that’s the biggest piece before all the defensive help could get back. Once he said ‘You know what? I’m going to go before they back.’ And that comes with getting stops. You can’t go in transition if they’re scoring.”

Trailing 48-30 near the end of the third quarter, the Hilton Cadets went on a 25-6 run, including a 16-2 surge in the final period to take a 55-54 lead with 17 seconds left.

Hill started the run with a free throw. On the ensuing Hilton possession, the junior guard converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to single digits for the first time since the end of the second quarter.

“Our whole coaching staff is very smart, not blowing our timeouts and making sure we just stayed calm,” Hill said. “I feel like those helped us a lot.”

Mitchell Carr was fouled on a layup attempt from the low post. The senior forward missed his second foul shot, grabbed the loose ball and made the putback floater to trim the lead to 54-46.

Hill made back-to-back layups. After forcing a missed field goal by the Fairport Red Raiders, the junior guard pulled up from the right wing and knocked down a three-pointer to make it a one-point game.

 

 

Hill swiped a steal, was fouled on his way to the basket and calmly swished a pair of free throws to give the Cadets their first lead since the opening period.

 

 

During the run, the Cadets held the Red Raiders to six missed field goals and forced six turnovers in 15 possessions.

“We picked up full court with a little pressure and got ’em (Fairport) maybe taking some rushed shots,” Prince explained. “We defended some of those 2-on-1’s or 2-on-2 layups and came away with the rebound and then we went inside to Mitch or Tahj slashed and we kind of pieced it together and it was what we’ve preached all year.”

 

 

Hill scored the Cadets’ final 12 points of the game. The junior guard finished 9-of-10 from the foul line as well.

“They (Fairport) took me away the whole game,” Hill explained. “I was frustrated, but coach always told me to never give up and move on to the next play. I got going in transition and things were going our way.”

Carr had all 13 of his points after the first quarter in which the Cadets trailed 16-9. The senior forward made a pair of layups, a floater, a three-pointer, reached the charity stripe eight times and converted four of his attempts.

Colin Burkis (8), Jack Gombatto (6), Najier Daniels (5) and Ryan Kurtz (1) rounded out the scoring for the Cadets.

 

 

For Fairport, Andre Starks poured in five of his six three-pointers in the first half. The senior guard finished with 25 points, including the potential game-winning three-point play with 7.3 ticks left.

“The play we had drawn up was for me to get a three,” Starks explained. “But I fumbled the pass. I looked at the clock and there was less than 10 seconds to go, so I knew we needed a bucket. I just drove to the basket, created the contact, tried to finish the play and luckily I did.”

“The first half, my teammates were just finding me,” the senior guard explained on his scoring in the first half. “I just hit the shots.”

 

Senior guard Vanzell Johnson netted three shots from beyond the arc and scored 10 points.

Stefan Milinkovic (8), Collin Espada (6), Jack Lindstrom (3), Brett Heininger (3) and Ryan Kennedy (2) rounded out the scoring for the Red Raiders.

 

 

“They’re so darn good defensively,” Prince said when praising the Red Raiders. “They help and they take you out of your gameplan.”

One Response to "Viva Hill; Hilton junior helps Cadets clinch Division I title"

  1. Mark   February 15, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Great defense by Hillton and another great performance by their own 4th quarter wrecking crew and AGR player of the year Mr. Hill!

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