The Alpena boys basketball team hosted Gaylord on Tuesday and in spite of a weak third quarter, powered past the Blue Devils 64-41.
Alpena started out strong, gaining a lead with a three-pointer from Andy Marwede less than 10 seconds into the game.
It was a lead the Wildcats never surrendered.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Jacob Benson (3) dribbles up the court while being defended by Gaylord’s Cameron Taylor during a boys basketball game Tuesday at Alpena High School.
Tyler Pintar scored a field goal 20 seconds later to stretch Alpena's lead to 5-0. Gaylord struggled to get the ball into the basket and under the defensive pressure of players like Pintar and Kameron Fitzek.
Pintar and Fitzek caused a lot of mayhem with attempted and successful steals and Pintar also pulled off a behind-the-back pass that got the crowd on its feet.
The Blue Devils scored after a minute and a half had passed with a basket by Tyler Frisch. Luke Cordes quickly answered with a three to take Alpena's lead to 8-2.
Alpena continued to shoot accurately, hitting six of six free throws and ending the quarter with a 20-9 lead.
Coach John Pintar commented on his team's accurate shooting.
"We got some good shooters on the team. We hit some threes and we were really accurate at the line tonight," he said.
Alpena hit 13 of 17 free throws for the night.
The second quarter showed Alpena continuing a streak of successful shooting with triples from Pintar and Cordes two minutes into the quarter.
Frisch had a huge quarter scoring eight points for Gaylord, but the rest of the quarter belonged to Fitzek, who scored three baskets and a free throw. With another basket by Cordes and another by Andy Marwede, Alpena took a convincing 37-19 lead at the end of the half.
The third quarter seemed to promise more success for Alpena as Cordes hit a three 20 seconds into the third. However, Gaylord began its most sustained and successful period of play with nine unanswered points in three minutes.
This drive was led primarily by Cameron Taylor and Frisch. Taylor scored a three and two field goals while Frisch hit another three with five minutes left in the quarter. This narrowed Alpena's lead to 41-31.
Pintar commented on his team's second half struggles.
"We couldn't have came out worse than we did in the first three minutes of the third quarter. It was primarily a defensive failure that opened up scoring opportunities for Gaylord," he said.
Alpena's defense clamped down on Gaylord, keeping the Blue Devils scoreless for the remaining three minutes of the quarter to take a 51-31 lead at the end of the period.
The fourth quarter started out with another three by Cordes giving Alpena a triple for its first basket in each of the four quarters.
Gaylord answered back and narrowed Alpena's lead to 54-35, but Cordes answered back with another field goal before Gaylord went scoreless for three minutes.
Marwede hit two free throws to extend the lead to 58-35 with 4:24 to play and attempted a slam dunk shortly after.
"That's the kind of thing you look for from us. We're an exciting team to watch and we have some exciting players," Pintar said.
This win puts Alpena at 2-1 in the Big North Conference and 4-1 overall. The Wildcats play again in Cadillac on Friday.
Alpena's JV team came away with a 60-42 win. Nicholas Skiba led Alpena with 14 points while Dylan Hoes contributed 10 assists.
The freshman boys lost 58-27 with Bradeon Werth and Kolin Ghidoni leading with four points each.
Alpena (64): G. Aikens1-0-0-3: A. Marwede 2-4-6-9: T. Pintar 5-4-4-16: K. Fitzek 4-1-2-9: L. Cordes 8-4-4-24: B. LaCross 1-1-1-3.
Gaylord (41): T. Cherry 1-0-0-2: C. Stout 0-2-2-2: Z. Pasternak 1-0-0-2: J. Dunn 1-0-1-2: C. Taylor 4-0-0-9: T. Frisch 6-0-0-15: Z. Lundell 3-2-2-8.