Hillsdale and Jefferson battled on the final day of 2021, with the Fighting Knights coming out on top, 52-47.
Ethan Kassel/Prep2Prep

Hillsdale beats Jefferson in final non-league tuneup

January 3, 2022

DALY CITY, Calif. — At the end of the first quarter of Friday’s visit to Jefferson, Hillsdale head coach Arjuna Manning-Laisne lit into his team.

“It was a personal moment between me and a specific player, and we’ll keep that private,” he said.

Whatever it was that he said during that exchange, it resonated. The Fighting Knights opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run, led by double digits at halftime and by as much as 19 in the third quarter before holding on late for a 52-47 win over the host Grizzlies to close out their non-league schedule.

“Whether it was that moment or a previous moment of us not competing in games we had a chance to compete better in, you have an expectation for your team,” Manning-Laisne said. “I feel like our record’s not indicative of the type of team we are, and I wanted them to remember that and remember that they’ve got some fire in them.”

Downtrodden after losing six of seven games, Hillsdale (4-8) responded well to Manning-Laisne’s fire. Backup center Mateo Kennel opened the second quarter with an and-1 before Mateo Reyes and Brady Carson hit back-to-back threes to open up a 21-9 lead.

Jordan Hauser’s 3-pointer midway through the first quarter had given the visitors a 12-2 advantage before Jefferson (8-4) responded with the final seven points of the quarter. In all, the Fighting Knights saw five different players combine to hit nine 3-pointers.

The lead sat at 31-18 at halftime after Carson’s long jumper at the buzzer, and it grew to 19 on two separate occasions in the third. Hauser, who scored a team-high 19, connected from beyond the arc to make it 40-21, and Liam Smith quickly answered a Myles Solanoy three with one of his own.

The hosts did close to 43-30 by the end of the third quarter, with nine of their 12 points in the quarter coming from Solanoy. He finished with 25, including a 3-pointer off a Mateo Costiniano assist and an and-1 to end the period.

That run continued into the fourth, where the Grizzlies got as close as within three points on Solanoy’s elbow jumper and Jaewon Toilolo’s putback with 1:43 left, capping off a 12-2 run. Toilolo did miss the free throw that would have made it a two-point game, and Hauser made a pair of free throws with 1:26 left to bring the advantage back to five. Carson, who finished with 13 and handed out four assists, made a pair of free throws 16 seconds later and Sean Magnuson made three of four in the final 25 seconds.

Toilolo scored seven, as did Jaime Choa IV. Kennel came off the bench to add six for the Knights, who were looking for production in the post after losing Kaelin Powell to injury two weeks earlier.

“We’ve had people go in and out between injuries and vacations, and he’s been consistent and he’s been awarded some opportunities,” Manning-Laisne said of Kennel.

Starting center Zachary Clumeck didn’t score for Hillsdale, but he did pull down a game-high 11 rebounds.

“Sometimes you don’t know how you are as a coach until you take a bunch of Ls in a row. We’re a good basketball team. Your record’s not always indicative of what you are,” Manning-Laisne reflected. “Teams play different schedules, sometimes you have a down day or something’s going on in the personal lives of your players that cause you to not play the way you’re capable of playing.”

Both teams are scheduled to open PAL play on Wednesday. Hillsdale hosts Woodside (2-8) to begin PAL-South play, while Jefferson is set to welcome in Half Moon Bay (3-4) to get the ball rolling in the North Division.

“Every team in the league will present a challenge,” Jefferson head coach John Falabella said.

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