The Traverse City West boys basketball team showed Alpena that no lead is insurmountable on Thursday night.
Trailing by 13 points at halftime, the Titans chipped away at the Wildcats' lead in the second half, pulling to within in five by the start of the fourth quarter, eventually taking the lead with three minutes to play and going on to defeat the Wildcats 64-62 at Alpena High School.
Donny Cizek led West with 19 points, with 14 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Cizek became the Titans' go-to play in the clutch as West's 6-1 guard weaved his way past Alpena defenders for buckets and was 8-for-9 from the free-throw line in the final period.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Kam Fitzek (23) drives to the basket during the first half of a boys basketball game on Thursday at Alpena High School. Defending him are Traverse City West players Kendrick Meyer, left, and Will Reed.
It was a basket from Cizek that gave West only its second lead of the game with just over three minutes remaining, 57-56. It was a lead the Titans would hold on to for good. Alpena pulled to within one three different times over the remaining time, but couldn't take the lead again. A free throw from Luke Cordes with 16 seconds left, made the score 63-62, but Cizek sank a free throw a few seconds later to put the Titans back up by two.
Alpena tried to run a couple of different plays in the final seconds, but they were broken up to preserve the win for the Titans.
"We didn't execute down the stretch and its disappointing because we put a lot of time into practicing some things that we wanted to run and we just didn't get it done," Alpena coach John Pintar said. "I give Traverse City credit, they pressured us."
It was a disappointing end for the Wildcats (3-1), who led by six with five minutes to play, but could only watch as Cizek carved up their defense for eight points in that time frame.
Alpena led by seven early in the fourth quarter, but soon found that lead down to two after West went 6-for-6 from the line to make the score 51-49 with 5:44 to play.
Pintar lamented Alpena's lack of energy in the second half and said his team may have been getting a bit tired by the end of the game.
"I was really disappointed in our second half, I thought we played slow, I thought we made a lot of mistakes with the turnovers and gave them a lot of opportunities," Pintar said. "They played with more energy in the second half than we did and we gave up way too many points and I think part of that was just the effort."
Tyler Pintar led the Wildcats with 20 points, Luke Cordes had 14 points and Kam Fitzek added 12 points. Pintar stepped up offensively in the third quarter, scoring 10 points and distributing the ball well to help Alpena to a 49-44 lead by the end of the period.
Alpena led 12-6 at the end of the first quarter and held off a shooting barrage by West in the second quarter that saw the Titans knock down five three-pointers, including three by Nate Castor.
The Wildcats' one-two inside punch of Cordes and Fitzek came through in the second quarter with several baskets apiece and Blair LaCross and Andy Marwede were among those who contributed off the bench offensively.
With so many players having the ability to score, Pintar was pleased to see his team spread the ball around.
"We have multiple scorers and we have guys all over the floor that I think can contribute offensively at different moments," Pintar said. "Tyler, Kam, Luke and Andy are all very good offensive players and did some very good things for us."
Jeremiah Williams added 13 points for West and Castor had 14.
Pintar helped Alpena keep a sizeable lead into the third quarter, but West slowly began chipping away and a trey from Castor and a follow-up basket from Kendrick Mayer with 25 seconds left in the period left Alpena clinging to a 46-44 lead before a three-point play from Pintar.
Alpena's JV team defeated West 56-37. Cody Tucker led the Wildcats with 20 points and Ryan Cadarette added 14.
TRAVERSE CITY WEST (64): Scott 1 0-0 3; Cizek 5 8-919; Williams 6 1-3 13; Castor 5 0-0 14; Reed 0 3-4 3; Wheelock 1 0-0 2; Sheppard 1 0-0 3; Javed 0 0-1 0; Meyer 1 5-6 7.
ALPENA (62): Aikens 0 1-2 1; Marwede 3 1-2 7; Pintar 5 9-12 20; Styma 1 0-0 2; Fitzek 5 2-4 12; Cordes 5 3-4 14.