Pioneers building for the post-season

The Hill-Murray High School boys basketball team advanced all the way to the section final last season before falling to St. Paul Johnson. ‘Graduation took a bite out of the Pioneers’ talent pool but getting another shot at a state-tournament berth is definitely a possibility.

Hill-Murray head coach Brady Hannigan believes his team might take its lumps early on and is looking to build up to a late-season push.

“We expect it to be a learning process throughout the year and we want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year,” said Hannigan, who is in his second season as head coach. “It might be rough early but our guys will find their roles, and the game will slow down for all of our new guys.”

The Pioneers return two starters from last year’s team that compiled a 21-8 record and finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Metro East Conference behind Hastings. Junior guard Simeon Davis is back after averaging 11.2 points per game a year ago. Also returning is senior center Chris Moore, who put up 10 points per contest last season.

Hill-Murray’s roster includes a large group of seniors but few with many varsity minutes under their belts.

“We are an old group but we have little experience,” Hannigan said.

Newcomers Hannigan expects will contribute this season include Felipe Ybarra-Suggs, Sam Carlson and Nate Donatell, all of whom are seniors.

Despite the lack of experience, Hannigan likes the work ethic and drive his team has shown.

“Guys who are willing to work hard and have a desire to win,” Hannigan said when asked about the strengths of this season’s team.

The Metro East Conference should have a bit of a different look as graduation took its toll on almost all the teams. Tartan is the one exception and that makes the Titans, who tied for second in the league last season, the favorite.

Hill-Murray started the season 0-2 with road losses to St. Paul Highland Park and Chisago Lakes.

Highland Park beat Hill-Murray 78-71 on Nov. 24 even though the Pioneers had five players score in double figures. Donatell led Hill-Murray with 15 points while Carlson and Davis scored 14 apiece. Ybarra-Suggs and Moore each added 10.

Game No. 2 was Dec. 1 at Chisago Lakes and the Wildcats came away with a 61-52 victory. Moore led all scorers with 22 points and added 15 rebounds and Davis chipped in with a dozen but Chisago Lakes was more balanced with four players in double figures.

Hill-Murray played at Menomonie on Dec. 4, past the deadline for this edition of the Review. The Pioneers’ upcoming schedule includes their only home game this month when St. Paul Central pays a visit on Dec. 10. Hill-Murray heads back out on the road on Dec. 12 for a 3 p.m. matinee at Totino-Grace.
The rest of the pre-Christmas schedule features games at Hastings (Dec. 15), South St. Paul (Dec. 18) and River Falls (Dec. 22).

Brian Meyers can be reached at or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

2015-16 Hill-Murray High School boys basketball schedule

Nov. 24    at St. Paul Highland Park    7 p.m.
Dec. 1    at Chisago Lakes    7:15 p.m.
Dec. 4    at Menomonie    7:15 p.m.
Dec. 10    vs. St. Paul Central    7 p.m.
Dec. 12    at Totino-Grace    3 p.m.
Dec. 15    at Hastings    7 p.m.
Dec. 18    at South St. Paul    7 p.m.
Dec. 22    at River Falls (Wisc.)    7 p.m.
Dec. 28    at holiday tournament    TBA
Dec. 29    at holiday tournament    TBA
Dec. 30    at holiday tournament    TBA
Jan. 5    vs. Tartan    7 p.m.
Jan. 8    vs. Mahtomedi    7 p.m.
Jan. 12    at North St. Paul    7 p.m.
Jan. 14    at Henry Sibley    7 p.m.
Jan. 18    at Minneapolis Henry    TBA
Jan. 19    vs. Hastings    7 p.m.
Jan. 22    at Simley    7 p.m.
Jan. 26    vs. St. Thomas Academy    7 p.m.
Jan. 29    vs. South St. Paul    7 p.m.
Jan. 30    at St. Paul Academy    2 p.m.
Feb. 2    at Tartan    7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5    at Mahtomedi    7 p.m.
Feb. 12    vs. North St. Paul    7 p.m.
Feb. 16    vs. Henry Sibley    7 p.m.
Feb. 19    vs. Simley    7 p.m.


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