SPRING VALLEY — In the week since they were edged out in an overtime game with L-P, the Hall Red Devils got back on track with a 15-point victory over Erie-Prophetstown last Friday.
With Bureau Valley visiting for Senior Night at Red Devil Gym, Hall (18-10, 6-3) seemed to have a restored confidence on the floor, and wasted little time to put the hammer down to defeat the Storm 61-37 on Tuesday night.
“It was a good Senior Night,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said. “I thought we moved the ball well, attacked the basket well.
“Bureau Valley plays like a matchup zone or sagging zone, and we kinda figured out what they were doing. Trez (Rybarczyk) and Bryan (Fuentes) got some open threes, so I think we did a nice job (of adjusting).”
The evening started off in the spirit of sportsmanship as Hall’s Matt Hultz and Greg Larsen gave up their starting spots for their senior teammates on the bench.
“We have seven seniors,” Filippini said. “Greg and Matt, it was their decision not to start. I thought it was a nice gesture to let the other guys who don’t play a lot start, very unselfish.”
BV (6-19, 1-8) got on the scoreboard first on a bucket from Evan Eckberg, but Hall quickly took over the lead to end the first period with an 18-9 advantage.
Leading the way for the Red Devil offense was Trez Rybarczyk with 24 points, who indicated that hitting the ground running was part of the game plan.
“We just pushed the ball for easy layups and threes that were wide open,” Rybarczyk said. “My main goal was to shut him (BV’s Dalton Dean) down, and that’s what we did.”
Indeed, Dean’s looks were limited by the Hall defenders, with the normally three-point threat held to three game points. Carter Salisbury would be the only BV player in double-figure scoring with 12.
“I think we allowed a couple of good opportunities that we missed to affect our psyche,” BV head coach Jason Marquis said. “I thought we got good looks early, but just didn’t hit ‘em.”
Fuentes joined Rybarczyk in the Red Devil scoring spree in the second period, scoring 7 of his 18 game points (12 in treys) to help pad the Hall lead to 36-19 at halftime.
“Some games I get mad at myself for not finishing around the rim, and that’s where I need to become stronger,” Fuentes said. “But, I was hitting it from the three, so I just kept doing that.”
“Yeah, he struggled on those layups, but I’m sure glad he made those 22-footers. Makes us look good,” Filippini added with a laugh.
There seemed to be no stopping the tandem of Rybarczyk and Fuentes in the second half, as they led the Red Devils in outscoring the Storm 24-10 to end the third period with a 60-29 lead.
Also chipping in points for the Hall scoring were Payton Plym and Matt Hultz with six apiece.
“They had shots, we didn’t,” Marquis said. “They play with a competitive spirit all the time, and very physical.
“We just can’t allow how the ball falls, how things we can’t control, to affect our approach.”
With the game outcome long decided, Marquis and his Storm players chose to end the night in the spirit of sportsmanship when Hall senior Dominic Orlandi came off the bench in the final minutes of his last home game as a Red Devil.
Orlandi, a Red Devil fan favorite, had yet to score in a Hall uniform but would always get a pop from the crowd whenever he would fearlessly throw up a 3-point shot.
The Red Devils made sure he would get the ball at the arc, and the BV defense gave him room to shoot, with the crowd getting louder with each attempt.
“We tried to give Dom a basket, tried as hard as we could,” Filippini said. “He had two go in and out, I can’t believe the one did not go in (laughs).”
Filippini appreciated the Storm gesture.
“I’d like to thank Coach Marquis and especially (assistant) coach (Craig) Johnson, they knew what we were trying to do at the end of the game,” he said. “It’s no fun to get beat by almost 30, and they still let it happen, which I thought shows a lot of class.
“We’ve had that happen before, and a lot of teams will deny him the ball. They (BV) didn’t have to do that on a Senior Night, but we at Hall appreciate it.”