A historic victory

ST. IGNACE-History was made on Wednesday as the Onaway boys basketball team defeated Pickford 74-59 in a Class D regional final to capture the first regional championship in program history.

“I can’t even describe it right now. I thought winning a district title was just the best thing in the world and then to win two more games and be just one win away from going to the Breslin Center is just unbelievable,” Onaway coach Eddy Szymoniak said.

The win moves the Cardinals to a quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 ranked Powers North Central on Tuesday.

The Cardinals (21-4) got off to a red hot start in the opening minutes of the game, jumping out to a 9-2 lead and forcing Pickford to use a quick timeout just over two minutes into the contest.

The timeout did not slow Onaway down at all as the Cardinals continued to put pressure on Pickford at both ends of the court, forcing early turnovers that eventually led to many easy buckets as Onaway held a 14 point lead late in the first quarter.

The Panthers gained some momentum at the end of the first quarter, scoring the final two baskets as Derrick Edington beat the buzzer to cut the lead back to single digits at the end of one.

The momentum carried over to the early stages of the second quarter as Edington continued his dominant play, scoring seven early points to bring the Panthers within three, but it would be the closest Pickford came to taking a lead on the night as the Cardinals continued to find ways to score and limit Pickford, ending the first half on an 11-4 run to take a 41-30 lead into the break.

“I told the kids at the half that we needed to build on the lea andd we could smell a little bit of blood and Pickford was back on their heels and we took it to them the rest of the game,” Szymoniak said.

Onaway caught fire from behind the three point line, connecting on four shots from long distance in the first five minutes of the quarter to took a 23 point lead late in the third quarter and could sense history in the making.

Pickford did all it could, battling back and went on a 12-2 run to open the fourth quarter to cut the lead back to 10 with just over three minutes left and forced Szymoniak to use a timeout and settle his team down.

The Cardinals did exactly that, playing a bit more conservative in the final minutes, forcing Pickford to start fouling, but it was too little too late as Onaway was determined to make history.

The Cardinals were led by Joe Sigsby who scored 25 points. Cortez Washington added 19 points and Trevor Wregglesworth chipped in with 12 points.

“Joe and Cortez can basically put a team on their back and did a phenomenal job tonight and that’s why they are one two of the best guards in northern michigan. We got a great effort from all of our guys tonight and that was huge for us,” Szymoniak said

Edington led the Panthers pouring in a game high 33 points. Ian Firack battled through a broken nose for most of the night and added nine points in the losing effort.

The Cardinals will have their biggest test to date when they try and dethrone the defending state champions.

“We don’t know a lot about Powers, but this team is not backing down. We are going to come after them and get in their face. Just like against Hillman, everyone has to lose sometime and we knocked off the number two team in the state and now it’s time to knock down number one,” Szymoniak said.

ONAWAY (74): C. Washington 5 8-10 19; L. Tollini 1 0-0 2; B. Moran 3 0-0 6; J. Sigsby 10 2-2 25; M. McLean 1 1-2 4; D. Wregglesworth 1 1-3 3; K. Brewer 1 0-0 2; T. Wregglesworth 4 2-4 12.

PICKFORD (59): W. Boik 0 3-3 3; D. Edington 13 4-5 33; J. Boik 1 0-0 3; G. Reed 4 0-0 8; T. Green 1 1-2 3; I. Firack 3 0-0 9.

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.