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by Joel DeWitt
GLENWOOD CITY The 2023-24 version of the Hilltopper boys’ basketball team returns a great deal of experience heading into a fresh season, with four of the five starters seeing considerable playing time the previous season.
That experience, along with hot shotting from the field, allowed the Hilltoppers to jump out to an early lead at home on December 1 against Alma-Pepin and cruise to a 54-38 victory.
Glenwood shot nearly 58 percent from inside the three-point line, held the Eagles to only 17 first half points, and limited them to 28 percent shooting on the night.
The win for the Hilltoppers give them their first opening night win since the 2021-22 season when they topped Boyceville 60-37.
Alma-Pepin had a slight lead early in the contest, however a bucket by Zach Hill at the 15:30 mark of the first half put the Hilltoppers up 5-4. Hill followed that up moments later with another layup to extend his teams lead to three points.
Those two baskets by Hill ignited a 21-6 run by the Hilltoppers that saw Brody Olson and Brody Riba both hit on pair of two-point buckets and Tyler Harrington drain a 3 pointer from the corner to help the Hilltoppers extend their advantage to 24-10 with a little over six minutes remaining in the first half.
Baskets by Morgan Eggert and Riba, and a pair of free-throws by Olson closed out the half and put the Hilltoppers up 30-17 at intermission.
Alma-Pepin started the second half with a 16-10 run to cut the Hilltoppers lead to seven with ten minutes remaining in the game. However, back-to-back baskets by Olson and Brady Thompson stymied the Eagles attack and put the Hilltoppers back up by 11 points at 44-33.
The Hilltopper defense would buckle down from there. They held the Eagles to only five points during the final six minutes, including holding them scoreless for the final 3:30 of the game.
While the defense was holding down the Eagles, the Hilltopper offense continued to put up points. Eight free throws down the stretch, four by Eggert and a pair each by Olson and Thompson, sealed Glenwood City’s first win of the season.
Offensively, the Hilltoppers were 19-for-40 from the floor on the night, including 17-for-30 from inside the arc. Olson paced his squad with 13 points, with Eggert adding 12 including 6-of-10 from the free-throw line. Hill added eight, while Harrington put up seven.
Hill and Olson both pulled down seven rebounds and were part of a defense that held the Eagles to 14-for-51 shooting from the field in the contest.
The Hilltoppers have a busy second week of action. They played at Clayton (0-1) on Tuesday, December 5 with that game not completed in time for this edition.
They open conference play on December 7 when they host Elmwood-Plum City (1-1, 0-0) for a 7:15 p.m. tipoff. They then travel to UW-Stout on December 9 for an early morning (8:45 a.m.) non-conference game against Cadott (2-0).