A thrilling finish: Copping, Wildcats use big fourth quarter to rally past Titans

Copping, Wildcats use big fourth quarter to rally past Titans

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Kelley Stark (24) shoots over the outstretched hands of Traverse City West defender Parker Neu during the second quarter of a boys basketball game on Friday at Alpena High School.

When the Alpena High boys basketball team needed a spark on Friday, Bruz Copping was there to answer the call.

The senior shooting guard scored 20 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter to help the Wildcats rally past Traverse City West 58-50 in a thrilling finish to a Big North Conference contest at Alpena High School.

Trailing 46-39 with 5:24 left to play, the Wildcats (8-1, 3-1 BNC) reversed their fortunes in a big way, outscoring West 19-4 in the remaining time. Alpena scored 16 unanswered points during its run and earned a win to stay tied for first place in the Big North. Alpena and Petoskey are currently tied at the top with 3-1 Big North records.

“Sports are a strange thing sometimes and tonight we found that energy with about five minutes to go,” Alpena coach John Pintar said. “Our guys just all of a sudden were a totally different team. The team that I’ve seen in the last couple games appeared and boy did they play well during that stretch.”

For three quarters, Alpena stayed right with West, but couldn’t seem to get out of its own way. Alpena led briefly several times in the third quarter, but, after 24 minutes, West led 40-39. The Titans stayed hot early in the fourth quarter, scoring six straight to pull ahead 46-39 as the Wildcats dealt with foul trouble.

But midway through the fourth quarter a switch seemed to flip for the Wildcats and once they got going, there was no slowing them down.

Copping was fouled with 5:10 left and sank both shots. He was fouled again 40 seconds later and drained two more shots to make it 46-43. With 4:06 left, Copping hit a floater in the lane and after a West turnover around midcourt, the ball was fed ahead to Copping and he sailed in for an open layup.

Just like that, Copping had scored eight consecutive points and Alpena held a 47-46 lead with 3:50 left.

“Bruz is really that second guy for us. He’s a huge part of what we have and we know what Chris (DeRocher) is going to do, but you’re not going to win with one guy,” Pintar said. “Bruz is that offensive player. He’s very good, he’s crafty and for him, he had a great fourth quarter. The Bruz that I expected showed up and he was huge.”

The momentum didn’t slow down there. DeRocher, who led Alpena with 21 points, was fouled in the lane and completed a three-point play. On Alpena’s next trip down the court, DeRocher got the ball down low, found Copping open on the wing and Copping hit another shot with 2:04 left, making it 52-46.

Aidan Goike and DeRocher combined to add three free throws for Alpena before West scored again with 43 seconds left. In almost five minutes Alpena went from trailing by seven to leading by seven.

“(Before the run), it was right on the brink where it looked like we were going to be the team deflated. I really credit all our guys on the bench all night,” Pintar said. “Everybody kept yelling, cheering, (saying) “Stay in it! Stay in it! Get a stop! Get a stop!’ and all of a sudden (after) a couple nice defensive plays…I thought we ran some good offense and our guys executed.”

Andy Soma led the Titans with 19 points, but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. West shot well from outside for three quarters, but when the shots stopped falling in the fourth quarter, the Titans had no answer for Alpena’s run.

West overcame foul troubles in the first quarter to lead 15-14 after eight minutes. The two sides traded the lead in the second quarter, but a late three-pointer from Soma assured West a 27-25 lead at the break.

A pair of quick buckets from Colin Donajkowski and DeRocher gave Alpena an early lead in the third quarter, but West seemed to have an answer for everything Alpena did. In all, the lead changed eight times in the period, the last one coming when Soma hit a shot with 38 seconds left to keep West ahead 40-39.

With his 21-point output on Friday, DeRocher needs just 76 points to break Butch Feher’s career scoring record.

Alpena plays at Bay City Western on Monday.

West’s JV team defeated Alpena 49-41. Jordan Schultz led Alpena with 24 points and Tyler Dickinson added five.

Alpena’s freshmen team defeated West 44-34. Michael Gumtow paced Alpena with 10 points and Mason Mumford and Noah Marquardt each had eight.

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BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free throws made/Free throws attempted/Total Points

ALPENA (58): B. Copping 5 10-16 20; C. DeRocher 6 9-11 21; K. Stark 3 0-0 8; A. Goike 0 2-4 2; J. Duncan 2 0-2 4; Co. Donajkowski 1 1-2 3.

TC WEST (50): A. Soma 6 3-3 9; J. Klassen 1 0-2 2; C. Buist 2 0-0 4; P. Neu 4 0-0 8; M. Hirschenberger 1 1-2 3; O. Saffredine 3 0-0 6; P. Szczepanski 4 0-0 8.