One to forget

Wildcats drop conference opener to TC Central

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena's Chris Derocher (33) goes up for a shot while being contested by Traverse City defenders Preston Briggs (10) and Jordan Vicent (21) during the first quarter of a Big North Conference boys basketball game on Friday at Alpena High School.

How fast things can change.

The Alpena boys basketball team celebrated a convincing season-opening win on Thursday and looked strong doing so. Less than 24 hours later, the Wildcats played host to Traverse City Central in their Big North Conference opener on Friday and the result was one to forget for Alpena as it struggled early and often and fell by a final of 72-38.

“The biggest disappointment was I just didn’t think we matched their intensity throughout the game. I know we played last night, but that would have maybe meant running out of gas late and we just didn’t have it from the start and didn’t play with the effort that we have to. They were at a different speed the entire night,” Alpena head coach John Pintar said. “They were the aggressor tonight from start to finish and it was just really disappointing.”

The game got out of hand early as the Trojans dominated in the opening quarter. Alpena struggled to get many good looks and committed several turnovers early while being hesitant with the ball. The Wildcats were ice cold from the field when they did manage to get a decent look and Traverse City’s height and speed proved to be too much as the Trojans held a commanding 18-4 lead after the first quarter.

“I just felt we were a half step slow on everything like our decision making and taking a shot. There was just nothing done crisp or clean at all and credit to Traverse City, one of the issues is going to be for us all year teams that are bigger and they had a lineup that was 6-3 to 6-9 across the board,” Pintar said. “Their length affected us to a certain degree, but we can do a much better job countering that with better ball movement and better decision making. It’s early in the year so it’s a learning experience and we have to pick it up and we have a lot higher level that we have to reach.”

The Trojans continued to build on their lead throughout the rest of the first half. Jared Nefcy had the hot hand for Traverse City as he scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the first half including four three pointers from the same corner of the court to help the Trojans take a 34-13 advantage into the break.

Traverse City came out with the same intensity and took advantage of the Wildcats lack of fire, continuing to pour it on the home team and took a 55-22 lead into the final quarter. The Trojans had it going all night from beyond the three point line as they connected on 12 shots from long range as they cruised to a lopsided victory to open up conference play.

The one bright spot for Alpena was Chris DeRocher who continued to find ways to score as he scored a game high 25 points.

Nefcy led Traverse City in scoring. Tobin Schwannecke added 12 points, Henry Goldkuhle had nine points and Ben McCary chipped in with eight points.

The Wildcats fall to 1-1 overall on the year and begin conference play at 0-1. Alpena will have a quick turnaround as it travels to Cheboygan on Monday.

“The early part of the season is learning your way through that. Tonight we met a tall, athletic team who is going to a very good basketball team this year, but this what we have to get to,” Pintar said. “We come back on Monday and I’m glad we have a short turnaround to get this taste out of our mouth. Hopefully we can go up to Cheboygan and start playing at the level that we saw tonight.”

The Alpena JV and freshman teams defeated Traverse City Central on Friday night. The JV team beat the Trojans 57-44 and were led by Riley Arlt who scored 15 points. Garrett Beaulieu added 11 points and Tyler Dickinson chipped in with 10 points. The Wildcats freshman team won 47-35 and were paced by Chris Dault who had 18 points. Ryan Lee scored 13 points and Trevor Dubie chipped in with seven points.

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TRAVERSE CITY – T. Schwannecke 3 4-5 12; H. Goldkuhle 4 0-0 9; P. Briggs 3 0-0 7; S. Schmitt 1 2-6 4; J. Vicent 2 0-0 6; B. McCary 3 2-2 8; J. Nefcy 6 2-4 19; S. Kolody 2 0-0 5; J. Sherwin 1 0-0 2.

ALPENA – K. Wisniewski 2 0-0 5; Co. Donajkowski 1 0-0 2; A. Goike 0 0-1 0; B. Copping 0 2-4 2; Cl. Donajkowski 0 0-2 0; C. Derocher 9 7-10 25; H. Goebel 1 0-0 2; B. Secrest 1 0-0 2.