Wildcats dominate late, cruise to victory over Tawas
The Alpena High boys basketball team didn’t start the first half of Monday’s home game against Tawas how it would have liked, but the Wildcats (3-6) finished strong and made up for a sluggish first half, routing Tawas (1-6) by a final of 62-45.
“The way we played in the first half is unacceptable. We played terrible on Thursday defensively and the way we played in the first half was not the way you want to redeem yourself and it was unacceptable,” Alpena coach John Pintar said. “Our effort couldn’t have been more opposite after the half. We were diving on the floor, we did a great job with our pick and roll and guys were active, we played really aggressive and we did a better job attacking and not settling so I’m proud of the effort we had in the second half.”
The Braves had it going from downtown early in the game, especially Gavin Dukaj, who nailed four of Tawas’ five shots from behind the long line in the opening quarter.
He hit five of the team’s six threes in a first half in which he scored 17 of his game-high 20 points.
Dukaj’s sharp shooting gave the Braves a 17-16 lead after one quarter, before Alpena did a better job not allowing the open looks in the second quarter. The heater Tawas was on from beyond the arc extinguished in a second quarter in which it was held to nine points.
The Wildcats finished the first half strong, going on a 12-5 run to take a 31-26 lead at the break, despite a lackluster first half.
“I thought the stretch in (the) second quarter when we took the lead, we started to see the defense really clamp down the last three minutes of the second quarter,” Pintar said. “I thought we really slowed down their momentum and I was happy with that, but that’s what we needed to do and fortunately we were able to carry that momentum the rest of the game.”
Alpena picked up the intensity in the second half and opened the third quarter scoring the first seven points to grab a double digit lead.
The Wildcats held Tawas scoreless over the first four and a half minutes, while holding the Braves to just four points in the quarter.
Quick and active hands for the Wildcats led to loose balls, turnovers and easy baskets as Alpena opened up the lead and didn’t look back.
The Wildcats continued their second half onslaught by scoring 12 unanswered points to begin the final quarter and blow the game wide open, taking a 54-30 lead.
They held Tawas without a point through the first four and a half minutes of the fourth as Alpena responded from its disappointing first half and coasted to a comfortable win.
“Our defense really got after them and got them a little frustrated and took them out of their rhythm,” Pintar said. “We really ran the break well and I saw a few of the best passes we’ve had on a break all year and all the sudden the guys got a jump and we got contributions all over. It was nice to see us play that way in that half. We’re still not consistent enough doing it for four quarters, but the guys understood what they needed to do and rallied in the second half and played really well.”
The Wildcats were led by Cooper Bright who finished with 18 points and Mason Mumford added 12 points.
Alpena will be right back in action today and the Wildcats will have revenge on their mind as they head to Traverse City West.
BOX SCORE: Field Goals Made/Free Throws Made/Free Throws Attempted/Total Points
ALPENA (62): T. Bright, 3 0-0 7; L. Young, 1 0-0 2; A. Fisher, 3 2-4 8; E. Srebnik, 1 0-0 3; L. Tucker, 1 0-0 2; M. Mumford, 6 0-0 12; A. Prue, 2 1-1 5; C. Bright, 6 6-8 18; K. Hahn, 0 2-2 2; C. Wicklund, 1 0-1 2.
TAWAS (45): G. Dukaj, 7 0-0 20; N. Maynard, 1 2-2 5; G. Kaniszewski, 6 1-2 14; E. Hedglin, 2 2-2 6.