June 26, 2019
By Morgan Wenger
Hiland Alumni entered the semifinals of the men’s summer league tournament as the prohibitive favorite after having only had one true challenge throughout the entire summer. Their comeback win against CIX Direct during the regular season, coupled with some key injuries, gave teams some hope that maybe there were some chinks in the armor. After multiple years of championship game heartbreak, Hiland was looking to put the wraps on their second consecutive league title and first undefeated season.
Hiland turned their semifinal game against 79 Entertainment into a laugher right away, building a double digit lead early in the game. Jalen Miller poured in 25 points in the first half to lead his team to a 61-34 halftime advantage. Leo Turpin did his best to keep the game competitive. Turpin knifed his way through the Hiland defense for 18 first half points. Hiland was just getting warmed up though. The onslaught continued in the second half as several Hiland players got into the act. Jalen Miller ended up with 44 points, Noah Boyd had 21, Jason Mishler hit five three pointers for his 15 points, and Dylan Kaufman and Josh Miller both reached double figures as the defending champs posted a 115-65 win. Turpin ended with 26 points for 79 Entertainment, while Greg Wallace finished a solid season with 15.
With Hiland waiting for the championship game, it was CIX Direct’s time to hold serve and get another shot at the reigning champions. Dalton High School had other ideas though. After an initial burst by CIX Direct, Dalton was able to claw their way back into the game during the opening half. CIX looked overpowering for much of the half, often bulling their way inside for easy layups against the younger Dalton team. Dalton, behind the strong play of Jalen Wenger, was able to stay in contact. Wenger ended the half with 17 points, and his team carried a 35-34 lead into halftime.
The game went back and forth in the early stages of the second half. Marzell Brooks, James Preston, and Mark White were leading the way for CIX Direct, but the veterans were still unable to shake the young Bulldogs. Joey Dalessandro started the half strong for Dalton, and his team built a five-point lead with just under 10 minutes remaining. Nathan Holik stepped up and hit two big three pointers for CIX Direct to change the tenor of the game. Holik’s nine points in a two-minute stretch forged CIX into a small lead as the game entered the stretch run. Some easy finishes around the rim put CIX up eight with only a couple of minutes left, and it seemed like the ending was inevitable. Dalton was not done fighting though. A Jalen Wenger layup, sandwiched between three pointers from Jaiden Malone and Ezra Miller, cut the CIX lead to three with 13 seconds left. Dalton promptly stole the inbounds pass and Malone quickly found himself alone for a game tying three pointer. The shot rimmed out and CIX survived the challenge to win the game 68-64. Holik’s big second half propelled him to a 22-point game for the winners. White, Preston, and Amir Simpson also ended up in double figures. Wenger finished with 27 points for Dalton while Dalessandro dropped in 14.
This set the stage for what everybody expected at the beginning of the night with Hiland facing off against CIX Direct. Using their trademark fast paced, effortless ball movement style, Hiland went for the kill right away in the championship game. They built a double digit lead almost instantly with a balanced attack. CIX was able to briefly stem the tide. A Mark White three pointer midway through the first half cut the Hiland advantage to 22-13, but the champions were not about to let up. Five Hiland players scored at least eight points in the first half as they built a commanding 53-23 lead by halftime. The second half saw more of the same as the Hawks relentlessly kept pushing the pace against the tired CIX team. By the time the dust had settled, Hiland had secured a dominating 81-36 victory to claim their second straight league title. Jalen Miller led Hiland with 21 points while Noah Boyd was close behind with 19. Kaufman, Mishler, and Cameron Miller all finished in double figures as well. James Preston led CIX Direct with nine points.
Please visit the Summer League page for box scores, scoring leaders, and standings from this year's league.
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