The Alpena boys basketball team had its first home game against Big North Conference rival Traverse City Central on Friday.
The Wildcats held off two comeback attempts by the Trojans to win 59-54 at Alpena High School in their 2012-13 home opener.
Alpena head coach John Pintar was proud of his team's play.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Andy Marwede (4) drives to the hoop against Traverse City Central defender Nate Schulsler. Marwede had 14 points in Alpena’s 59-54 win Friday at Alpena High School.
"Any Traverse City team is always a team to beat, even if we were both one and 19 we'd want to top a Big North rival like this and it was great to see the boys do it," he said.
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead as Colin Lesoski hit a free throw to open the game. Alpena's Luke Cordes then hit two free throws to give Alpena the lead.
The first quarter saw the lead change five times in the first four minutes, with the last lead change being Alpena going up13-12 off of a Cordes basket. Cordes also hit two baskets and a three-pointer in the period.
The Trojans struggled to mount a successful offense as Alpena continued to up its defensive pressure and continued to hit the basket heavy.
Kam Fitzek and Tyler Pintar each had a basket while Andy Marwede had a basket and a three to help Alpena to a 22-12 lead at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter saw continued pressure from the Wildcats as the Trojans continued to struggle. Pintar hit two free throws six seconds into the quarter at which point the game went into a defensive stalemate for two minutes.
Finally, Central's Ethan Pilarski hit a free throw to break his team's nearly seven-minute scoreless streak. Continued offensive pressure from Fitzek, Blair LaCross, Cordes and Marwede helped push Alpena further into the lead.
The Trojans became more consistent in the second quarter with Pilarski and Tanner Kenney especially effective with at least one basket and a few free throws a piece. Both teams played defensively strong but Alpena seemed to get the right blocks and the right rebounds to keep Central at bay. The quarter ended 37-24 with Alpena firmly in the lead.
Central turned up the pressure in the second half, improving its defense and stepping up offensively.
Alpena was the first to score with a field goal by Fitzek. However, Alpena struggled to score for the next three minutes as the Trojans went on a seven-point scoring streak to narrow the lead to 39-31.
The Wildcats mounted several successful runs including two field goals and one free throw by Cordes and one field goal by Pintar but Alpena's offenses successes slowed down as the Trojans found success on the perimeter with Cook and Nate Schusler hitting two treys apiece to pull within four, 46-42.
The Wildcats didn't let the Trojans' comeback attempt get them down for long. Instead, they went on a 9-0 scoring streak of their own in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter.
Alpena increased its defensive pressure and gained some big rebounds from Marwede and Cordes to keep them in the game. LaCross and Fitzek were especially impressive in the quarter on the scoring front with two field goals from Fitzek and one from LaCross.
The Trojans finally scored with two minutes left in the game off of another three by Schlusler. It began a run that pulled them to within three, 55-52 with 1:08 to play.
Pintar drove hit a vital basket to extend Alpena's lead to five with 55 seconds left, but Central's Mitch Wynkoop answered with a bucket of his own.
Cordes finally iced the game for Alpena with a bucket with six seconds left.
Pintar commented on his team's play in the second half.
"We really struggled in the second half. We were shooting too quickly and not setting things up well enough. However, overall I think they played really well and did what they had to do and won. These kinds of games are the types of games you need to win, the kind of wins that keep you competitive," he said.
Alpena is now 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big North. Alpena travels to Standish on Friday.
The Alpena JV team also beat Central with a score of 45-31. Eli Martin scored 15 points for the Wildcats while Austin Hemmingson had five blocks.
Alpena's freshman team lost to the Trojans 48-25 with Bret Auger scoring 10 points.
Alpena (59): A. Marwede 6-0-1-14; T. Pintar 3-2-2-8; K. Fitzek 6-0-2-12; L. Cordes 8-3-5-20; B. LaCross 2-1-1-5.
Traverse City Central (54): T. Cook 6-0-0-14; C. Lesoski 1-1-4-3; E. Pilarski 5-3-6-13; T. Kenney 4-5-6-13; N. Schlsuler 3-0-4-9; M. Wynkoop 1-0-0-2.