The Alpena boys basketball team is currently riding a six-game winning streak that it hopes to continue against Big North rival Traverse City Central tonight at 7:30.
Although the Trojans record (2-7, 2-3 Big North) isn't very impressive, Central did hand the Wildcats (6-1, 3-1 Big North) their only loss of the season.
"They're a much better basketball team than their record. They lost a real tough game in overtime to Cadillac on Tuesday. They're a team that competes, plays hard and is well coached. We know its going to be a real battle," Alpena coach John Pintar said.
The Trojans have a fast paced offensive and defensive style that increases the tempo of the game. Central employs aggressive, tight man-to-man to create turnovers and scoring opportunities.
It is also a fairly tall team that takes uses its size to try to dominate opponents physically. This intensity gave Alpena a workout in the first game of the season and Alpena is anticipating more of the same tonight.
"The number one thing to do is match the intensity they play with. You can't let them out work you, can't let them get second or third chances. On our end that means working really hard and matching that intensity with our own," Pintar said.
Breaking the Trojan press will require careful ball movement and precision passing. Throwing off an aggressive team with quick ball movement will throw off its team effectiveness.
"On offense, we gotta keep moving basketball and take advantage of the situations where we can use their aggressiveness against them," Pintar said.
Alpena's six game win streak hasn't been built from pure luck. It has beat tough conference opponents like Cadillac and Petoskey to sit near the top of the Big North and won with a balanced effort.
Andy Marwede has been a commanding presence in the post and Tyler Pintar has led Alpena on the outside.
However, the Wildcats won't rely purely on these two players to beat the Trojans, but will utilize a deep starting line up and bench that works together well as a team.
"I think all year that the thing that's made us a real good team is having multiple guys that can do things. Brad (Styma) and Cody (Tucker) have been guys that have pitched in a lot with scoring," Pintar said. "Bench players like Dylan Hoes, Nick Skiba and going to provide a boost for us. I like our team, I like that we get contributions all over. We play as a team and spread the wealth."
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.