PRINCETON — It took six minutes for Hall to score a point in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night, but consecutive layups from Miguel Villareal was what the Red Devils needed to hold off Princeton 47-42 at Prouty Gym.
After the Tigers cut their deficit to 38-37 with 3:17 remaining, Villareal ended Hall’s scoring drought with a drive and a right-handed layup at the two-minute mark of the final period. He followed that up by penetrating to the middle of the lane and scoring in traffic on the Red Devils’ next possession, just 32 seconds later.
“Miguel had a great second half,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said. “He had a couple of drives that pretty much sealed the game. I don’t know how he makes some of those layups but he made two right in a row. You could see when he did that, it killed Princeton’s momentum and our kids got energized.”
“That was a huge point in the game where (Villareal) got those two hoops on drives to the basket,” Princeton coach Jesse Brandt said. “Those were two bad defensive plays by us all the way around. He got there and made them. They had some chances earlier where they missed some of those layups. To their credit they made those at the end.”
Still, Hall (11-7, 3-2) left the door open for Princeton late in the game by missing the front end of one-and-ones on three consecutive possessions and PHS junior Brenton Schmidt rattled home a three with 21 seconds left in the game to get within 42-40.
However, A.J. Gaeta then hit five of six free-throws in the final 14 seconds to secure the Three Rivers South Division win for the Red Devils. He finished tied with Villareal for the team high in scoring with 16 points each.
“We didn’t play a very good game and we won,” Filippini said. “We’re not trying to say how great we are. That’s a great sign for our kids when we don’t play well and still win on the road. We never play well in Princeton. It’s a hard place to play. I don’t care what Princeton’s record is. To come in and not play that well and still win by five points is great for us.”
Filippini credited his team’s rebounding on the defensive end as they limited Princeton’s second chance opportunities. Although the Red Devils were out-rebounded 25-24 overall in the game, they held the Tigers to just three rebounds on the offensive glass.
“For a team that has one kid over 6-1, that’s why we are 11-7 because we box out and we rebound,” Filippini said. “Basketball is a simple game when you do things like that. I can’t say enough about how great we boxed out and how good our man-to-man defense was.”
Princeton’s biggest lead came at the start of the game where they jumped out to a 10-3 advantage, highlighted by threes from Garrett Duffin and J.J. Vaccaro. Hall would close the first quarter on an 11-2 run.
The second quarter saw six lead changes with Princeton’s last lead coming on Vaccarro’s second trey of the night with 3:51 remaining in the period. A hoop from Collin Aimone and a three at the buzzer from Ian Trevier gave Hall a 27-23 lead at halftime.
Brandt took the blame for the loss.
“I didn’t have the guys ready to go,” he said. “I did a poor job of getting the guys ready at the beginning of the game and in the second half. We will work on that for the next game. We will try to change the things we do to get guys ready. I didn’t think we came out prepared to play.”
Duffin had game-highs of 23 points (8-12 from the field) and 9 rebounds for PHS.
• Notes: PHS won the sophomore prelim 57-42. Jake Reinhardt led the Kittens with 17 points with Levi Bates and Skye Behrends adding 13. ... PHS continues a four-game homestand Thursday with Mendota followed by games with Sherrard and L-P Friday and Saturday nights.
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