SPRING VALLEY — The Hall Red Devils hit two 3-pointers in the first minute of the game, one by A.J. Gaeta and the other by Ian Trevier. The Red Devils went up 8-0 and the Princeton Tigers had to play catch-up the rest of the way, falling 54-47 Tuesday at Red Devil Gymnasium.
“We couldn’t ask for a better start. A.J. hits a 3 and Ian hits a 3 and it was 8-0 before they called a timeout. That’s the beauty of our offense,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said.
“We did just enough to win. That game’s not necessarily going into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It was a pretty ugly win. I told the kids, at Hall we take all kinds of ugly wins. We have no shame. We’ll take any wins we can get.”
Hall (15-9) led by as much as 12 points, scoring the final four points of the first quarter and the first basket of the second to go up 24-12. All three baskets were by senior guard Miguel Villareal on scoring drives, all by design.
Villareal led the Red Devils with 19 points, and dished off for numerous assists.
“I don’t know how he does it. It’s not like it’s a secret,” Filippini said. “First half he was unbelievable. I’m sure that was Jesse’s main part of their halftime was to try to slow down Miguel.”
“The key to the game was we couldn’t keep Villarreal away from the basket, whether it was him scoring or kicking it to guys for shots,” PHS coach Jesse Brandt said. “That was the difference. He got to the rim when he wanted to and either made a layup or kicked it out. We just didn’t defend well enough.”
Filippini thought the switch to man-to-man defense in the second half was pivotal for the Red Devils. And outside of one possession, where “(PHS) had 18 possessions,” Filippini said the Red Devils did a good job boxing out.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re winning. We don’t have a 6-8 kid going to Wisconsin. We have kids who box out and try really hard on defense. Sometimes that’s just as good,” he said.
The Tigers used the hot hand of junior Garrett Duffin, who hit two baskets to close out the third quarter to close within 38-34. Duffin finished with a game-high 23 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the field and was 7 of 7 from the line.
In the end, Brandt said the Tigers had too many missed opportunities and missed layups. On the other hand, Filippini said the Red Devils just made enough free throws.
“We always have to make it interesting. We can’t just knock down six in a row,” Filippini said.
At 15-9 and 6-4 in the TRAC South, Filippini offers the Red Devils have probably exceeded their expectations, but plan to keep riding the wave.
“I say that after every game, did you think we were going to be 14-9, Did you think we were going to be 15-9. Some of them do, but they’re liars,” he said. “I think they believe it now. Should we be 15-9 with this team, I don’t know. All the credit should go to the kids. It’s not like I’m coaching any different. They’re the ones doing it.”
• Notes: Princeton escaped with a 44-41 win in the sophomore game as a potential game-tying 3-point attempt by Hall’s Jake Merkel’s rimmed the basket. Jake Reinhardt led the Kittens with 16 points and Drew Pullam had 13 for the Demons. ... The Red Devils will exchange Valentine Day’s pleasantries with rival St. Bede Friday back at Red Devil Gymnasium. PHS will travel to Sherrard.
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