Hill scores 40; Hilton wins third straight

Tah-jae Hill has scored 71 points in his last two games including a career-high 40 in Hilton’s 84-76 double overtime defeat of Webster Schroeder, Wednesday night. The sophomore guard is averaging 22 points per game this season. (Photo: CHRIS ROACH)

By PAUL GOTHAM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Tah-jae Hill displayed no signs of complacency.

Two days after setting a career high with 31 points, the Hilton sophomore was at it again.

Hill poured in 11 first-quarter points and added six more in the second overtime session. In between the sophomore scored 23 to up his personal ante.

For everyone in attendance, the effort had the appearance of rule as opposed to exception.

“He believes, and I’m thinking that the rest of the people in the gym are believing that every shot is going to go in,” Hilton coach Troy Prince said after Hill scored 40 points in the Cadets 84-76 win over Webster Schroeder, Wednesday night. “He gets a great look.”

The 6-foot guard gets those looks at the basket in seemingly every means possible.

Of his 13 field goals on the night, Hill connected three times behind the arc and 10 from closer range. Quick off the dribble, he gets defenders in retreat and sets up his go-to: the pull-up jumper.

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That’s just the start of it.

He flashed his back-to-the basket game complete with a shoulder shimmy to get a defender off balance before finishing a baseline drop-step.  Hill also knocked down a pair of catch-and-shoot jumpers showing the ability to come off screens hard  before gathering himself at the point of release.

“They were pressuring me a lot,” Hill said. “It wasn’t easy. I can tell you that. My guys set great screens. Big guys that screen their tails off. They got me open. I just knocked down shots.”

In case you may think he doesn’t grind in the paint, Hill also converted an offensive rebound (one of his 11 boards on the night) and putback when presented the opportunity. Of course, that bucket looks plain by comparison.

“He’s certainly extremely talented, and he works at it,” Prince noted. “In shooting drills in the off-season, nobody works harder. He shoots those shots, pull-up jumpers at game speed in practice. Every shooting drill we do, he’s going. It’s a credit to his work ethic. Combine that with maturity, too. He took one bad shot tonight, I think.”

 

The maturation showed itself early in the second overtime. After missing attempts to win the game at the end of regulation and the first overtime, he played decoy in the stanza’s first possession. With Schroeder’s Malachi Duvall face-guarding Hill beyond the three-point arc, teammate Noah Malta took advantage of an open lane and drove from the right corner. When the defense shifted, Malta kicked it to an open Mitchell Carr for three of his 17 points on the night. The Cadets had a lead they did not surrender.

“I know that we have other shooters on the team,” Hill said. “I stayed patient.”

Instead of forcing himself into the play, Hill created space. Carr gets credit for the points. Malta handed out one of his eight assists. Hill supplied influence. Something that Prince noted is a developing mindset on his team.

“There is a lot of maturity from a lot of guys and recognizing one, we need him to go. To him realizing that they are certainly capable of when they are open, and he doesn’t have to shoot a tough shot.

“There’s a trust factor. They’ve earned his trust. He’s matured to see that he’s gotta trust them too. It’s this relationship that has continued to build. Guys have knocked down shots.”

 

Joey Lipani scored 16 points including a jumper late in regulation to give Hilton a 62-60 edge. The senior followed with four points in overtime.

 

“We just kept scoring,” Lipani said. “Tahj was unbelievable. Everybody else was making shots when Tahj was drawing the defense to him. We got enough stops to win.”

Schroeder freshman Ky’mere Meeks scored 10 of his season and team-high 22 points in the third quarter as the Warriors (3-7) took a 44-43 edge into the fourth quarter. Schroeder pushed the advantage to five when Duvall led Meeks in the paint for two and a 48-43 lead with just over six minutes to play.

Schroeder’s Luke Insley (foreground) receives an inbound pass as Hilton’s Noah Malta applies pressure. (Photo: PAUL GOTHAM/PICKIN’ SPLINTERS)

Duvall finished with a season-high 20 points. Nate Hardy had 14.

 

Hilton (6-5) won for the sixth time in its last seven games. With Hill in the lineup, the Cadets are 5-1. The only loss came to Greece Athena (9-1), a game in which Hill was forced to leave early for precautionary measures when he took an inadvertent knee to the head.

“It certainly says a lot going forward about battling through, resiliency. We’ve done it all year from not having Tahj for four games. Those guys stayed positive.

“I think good things are going to keep happening for us if we can stay healthy and stay positive.”

Other scorers: Hilton – Morgan Kunigan (5), Colin Burkis (3) and Nick Walsh (1). Schroeder – Luke Insley (3), JoJo Plummer (6), Colin Merkey (9) and Josh Hauman (2).

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