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Hall boys basketball coach Mike Filippini insists that his squad plays a lot tougher than its 5-10 record may indicate.
The Red Devils went a long way toward proving that Tuesday night.
Hall survived a late push from Henry at the end of regulation as the Red Devils hung to top the Mallards 66-55 in double overtime in Tri-County Conference action at Red Devil Gymnasium.
Hall led by as many 11 points late in the third quarter, but the Mallards began to close the distance and managed to knot things up at the end of regulation with three straight free throws from Jake Schlosser after drawing a foul on a 3-point shot with just 1.5 seconds left on the clock.
The two squads battled even for the first extra period with four points apiece — but the second overtime belonged wholly to Hall as the Red Devils outscored the Mallards 15-4 down the final four-minute stretch to claim the league victory.
The Red Devils (5-10, 3-1TCC) used a clutch putback bucket from senior forward Erick Fuentes to take a 55-54 lead with 2:55 left in the game, and Fuentes followed up with another basket 35 seconds later after a Henry miss to give Hall a 57-54 lead it would not give cede.
“Coach (Tom) Keegan said it best — the biggest play that probably got us the win in double overtime was when Fuentes got that offensive rebound and putback. That put us in front and we did not relinquish the lead,” said Hall coach Mike Filippini. “We’re not exactly big, but you’ve got to play good defense and rebound.”
Hall senior guard Brett Fanning had a big hand in helping secure the win with 11 of his game-high 23 points in extra time — including a drive and basket early in the second overtime that coaxed a fifth foul from Mallard standout Nathan Helle — along with 6-for-7 shooting from the foul line.
Filippini credited Hall guard Danny Nolasco with an “outstanding” defensive effort after limiting Helle to 12 points, and said his squad executed its game plan to perfection as constant driving pressure on offense led to three Mallards fouling out.
“Danny’s a little 5-foot-8 kid, but he’s tough as nails. He had an awesome defensive effort,” Filippini said. “The whole game plan the entire night was to try and spread them out and get to the hoop. We knew they weren’t deep. .. They didn’t have a whole lot of depth on the bench. So we tried to spread them out and get them into foul trouble. Talk about kids who follow a game plan — that was written exactly in the book.”
Along with his stellar defensive effort, Nolasco added 13 points for Hall, including three 3-pointers set up by kickouts from driving teammates. Miguel Villareal added 11 points and nine rebounds while Fanning had a team-high 10 rebounds for the Red Devils, who led 15-11 after the first quarter and 28-22 at halftime.
Helle and Schlosser tied for the team lead for Henry (14-3, 3-1 TCC) with 12 points apiece. Ryan Condit and Kyle Henderson were hot on their heels with 11 points each, while Helle led the way with a game-high 12 rebounds.
“I don’t like the ending, but it was a great effort from our perspective,” said Henry coach Steve Self. “We battled back after being down 10 at the end of the third. I told my kids I’m proud of the way we battled back. The three free throws that Jake hit were huge. Obvioulsy, it tied the game, but just the pressure situation he was in to go up (and hit two) and then after they called the timeout to knock another free throw down shows a lot about his mental toughness.”