MU connection sparks Hillside
Hillside Community Church, based in Bellwood, sponsors a team that competes in Division 4 of the Central Blair Recreation Commission’s Lakemont Park Men’s Summer Basketball League.
It’s a squad that features several players from Huntingdon County who played high school basketball at either Mount Union or Huntingdon.
One of them, Mount Union product Brock Imperioli, said that it’s a cohesive unit that has played basketball together for a long time.
Another Mount Union product, Ryan McClain, scored a game-high 19 points and Imperioli added 13 as top-seeded Hillside won the Division 4 championship by defeating Grace Bible Church, 58-44 Monday night.
“It was just a good team effort,” Imperioli said. “A lot of us are close, and we play basketball together all the time.”
It looked like it Monday, when Hillside built a 29-20 halftime lead and expanded it in the second half to finish the season with a 12-1 record.
“We started out slow, but as soon as we started moving the ball, it was over,” McClain said. “We all played together as a team.”
McClain’s 3-pointer from the left side and his later free throw opened up a 33-20 lead for Hillside at the outset of the second half. Grace Bible — which entered the playoffs as the division’s 11th-seeded team — pulled to within 44-38 on a driving bucket by guard Aaron Benson, who scored all nine of his points in the second half.
Hillside responded by scoring the next seven points, however, to take command, 51-38. Mydell Loner scored inside off a McClain feed, McClain buried a 3-pointer from the right side, and Imperioli hit a field goal off a drive to comprise the run.
McClain gave several of his Hillside teammates kudos for their hard work in the paint and beyond.
“Brock, Mykell Smith, Mike Sellers, and Billy McGinnis all played tough all-around basketball,” McClain said.
Jonah Salyards, who scored 2,000 career points during his high school basketball playing days at Great Commission, led Grace Bible (5-9) with 16 points.
Salyards saluted the Hillside Community Church team for a solid effort.
“Give all the credit to Hillside,” Salyards said. “They played an excellent game. They played real physical. They shot the lights out, and their big guys did a great job converting with our hands in their faces.”
After building the 51-38 lead, Hillside had no trouble closing the game out. A bucket by Mike Sellers, three free throws by Loner, and another field goal by Sellers enabled Hillside to finish the game in cruise control.
“Hats off to Hillside,” Salyards said. “They played and executed great.”
HILLSIDE COMMUNITY CHURCH (58): Loner 2 5-6 9, Imperioli 6 1-2 13, Sellers 3 0-1 6, McClain 7 1-2 19, McGinnis 4 0-1 8, Seller 0 0-0 0, Smith 1 0-0 3. Totals — 23 7-12 58.
GRACE BIBLE CHURCH (44): Salyards 6 3-5 16, K. Benson 2 0-0 4, Foster 1 0-0 3, Winquist 3 1-2 7, Wray 1 2-2 5, A. Benson 3 2-2 9, Krater 0 0-0 0, Stuart 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 8-11 44.
SCORE BY HALVES
Hillside Community Church 29 29 — 58
Grace Bible Church 20 24 — 44
3-point goals: Hillside Community Church 5 (McClain 4, Smith); Grace Bible Church 4 (Foster, A. Benson, Salyards, Wray).
Records: Hillside Community Church (12-1); Grace Bible Church (5-9).
Officials: Curtis Miller, Mark Page, Denny Betar.