Wildcats exact revenge in thriller against rival Traverse City Central
ALPENA — What a difference 11 days can make.
Less than two weeks ago, the Alpena High boys basketball team was in control of a Big North Conference contest against rival Traverse City Central, but surrendered a fourth quarter lead and watched a road victory slip away.
The sting of that defeat lasted 11 long days, but the Wildcats got to avenge that loss on Tuesday, putting together four strong quarters to defeat Central 60-55.
“It was just a great high school basketball game. It’s great for our guys, a great team win. They’ve been battling and competing all year,” Alpena coach John Pintar said. “It wasn’t long ago we were over there (Central) and lost a tough one down the stretch. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to and tonight when things got tight we made the plays. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys and the effort.”
Despite a nail-biting finish, Alpena (8-5, 3-4 BNC) nearly led from start to finish.
Alpena took its largest lead with four minutes left in the third quarter when Cooper Bright drilled a three to put the Wildcats up 40-33.
Central (6-6, 4-3 BNC) responded with a pair of quick baskets and seemed to always have an answer when Alpena threatened to pull away.
The Wildcats held a 47-40 lead after three quarters. Ryan Voltz gave Alpena a jolt of momentum as he intercepted a pass, scored, got fouled and converted the and-one opportunity to put the Wildcats up 10 early in the fourth quarter.
The Trojans responded with six unanswered points, but Cooper Bright hit a three to push the lead back to seven.
Central continued chipping away at the lead and the Wildcats entered the bonus but split on their first two trips to the stripe, opening the door for Anthony Ribel and the Trojans.
Ribel had the hot hand for Central, scoring a team high 25 points, including a clutch three with 1:50 to play to cut the Alpena lead to 54-53.
Despite Ribel’s big night, he missed a golden opportunity to give Central the lead, failing to convert a wide open layup with 1:04 left and the Trojans were forced to foul with under a minute to play.
Alpena split the free-throw chance, but Mason Mumford came up with a huge offensive rebound.
After splitting a pair of free chances, Tucker Bright drained his next two attempts to put Alpena up 57-53.
The Trojans scored a quick two on their next possession to cut the lead to 57-55 with 26.6 remaining, but it was as close as Central got in the final seconds as Tucker Bright split another pair of free-throws, but once again Mumford grabbed the rebound.
Cooper Bright was fouled and sunk the games’ final two points as Alpena dribbled the ball out after a Central miss and the ruckus home crowd went into a frenzy as the clock hit zero as the student section rushed the court to celebrate Alpena’s thrilling victory.
“It felt like a Friday night. Credit to our student section. It’s awesome when they’re engaged with their classmates. It was just a great crowd and they were into it from the get go,” Pintar said. “That’s what a home court advantage is supposed to be. They were willing us and pushing us so a big shout out to our home crowd and student section for coming out on a Tuesday and making this a special high school environment. This is why you look forward to playing and I look forward to coaching, because of nights like this.”
The Wildcats shared the wealth early as five different players cracked the scoring column, contributing to Alpena’s 16-12 lead after one quarter.
The Trojans kept their eye on the Bright brothers, but both Cooper and Tucker found ways to score throughout the first half of play. The duo combined for 20 first half points, scoring 12 and eight respectively in the first half to send Alpena into the locker room with a 29-26 halftime advantage.
Cooper Bright caught fire early in the third quarter, pouring in 11 more points in the quarter, including a pair of triples. He poured in a game-high 29 points. Tucker Bright added 14 points including three of Alpena’s nine made threes on the night. Voltz chipped in nine points in an all-around stellar performance.
“I thought it was a total team effort tonight. Mason (Mumford) got some key rebounds late, Ryan (Voltz) does so much for us and is so good defensively and his bucket early in the fourth gave us momentum, Cooper had another great night scoring, Tucker hit a bunch of threes and Devin (LaMay) played well again and continues to improve. All around it was a great effort from our guys,” Pintar said.
The Wildcats travel to Petoskey Friday for another BNC tilt.
The Alpena JV team lost to Central 40-32. Carter Stark paced Alpena with eight points and Jacob Zann and Avery Samp each added five points.
The Wildcat freshman team lost 56-22. Alex Beegan led the way with six points and Cole Herman chipped in with five points.
BOX SCORE: Field Goals Made/Free Throws Made/Free Throws Attempted/Total Points
ALPENA (60): C. Bright, 9 6-10 29; A. Prue, 1 0-0 3; T. Bright, 4 4-6 14; E. Srebnik, 1 0-0 3; L. Young, 1 0-0 2; R. Voltz, 4 1-1 9.
TRAVERSE CITY CENTRAL (55): K. Warner, 5 0-0 10; A. Ribel, 10 2-3 25; C. Bourdo, 1 0-0 2; B. Van Nes, 1 0-0 2; B. Halliday, 2 0-0 5; M. Smith, 4 0-0 11.