BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — No Anthony Wayne player reached double figures, but the Generals clawed out a 35-32 victory over Rogers at the Dick Albaugh Physical Education and Athletic Center last Saturday.
AW improved to 6-1 overall, while Rogers, which has non-league victories over St. John’s and Dayton Dunbar, fell to 4-7.
The game appeared similar to when Anthony Wayne played the Titans in the Division I regional tournament last year at Savage Arena, but this time the Generals were not trying to create chaos.
It just happened that way.
“We just need to work a little bit and execute, and we did execute some things early on, but we just didn’t execute down the stretch the last 12 or 15 seconds of the game,” said AW coach Josh Arthur.
“We just have to work a little bit harder at rebounding, passing the ball, ball-faking, and fundamentals.”
The Generals were coming off their first loss of the season, 55-48 to Genoa o Friday, while the Rams were playing their third game in three days, and it showed – at least in the scoring column.
It was the lowest offensive output all season for both teams, but Arthur was pleased to see his team come out on top.
“No matter what it is, the boys are fighting. They are working hard,” he said. “I think a day after another game, driving out to Genoa, getting home and not getting back until 10:15, we’ll take it anytime.
AW made just 34 percent of its field goals and committed 16 turnovers, but it was afforded one break – Rogers played most of the game in its half-court offense and stayed away from its transition game.
“I thought it was kind of nice that Rogers slowed the game down for us,” Arthur said. “They were taking 30 to 45 seconds in every half-court set.
“They were probably (tired) and they were missing their point guard, too, which hurts a little bit, but we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
“They tried to slow it down more than what we thought,” added senior forward Ben Allen. “They tried to play it in a half-court and we were able to get some key stops defensively, especially in the second half, which helped us get the win.”
In addition, the game got physical with the big men pushing for control under the basket.
Arthur says his players are always ready for physical contact.
“We’re strong and everybody knows that in Northwest Ohio. We can play that way,” he said.
In addition, the Rams’ offense struggled even more than the Generals’, making just 13-of-42 field goals (31 percent) and 6-of-13 free throws (46 percent). Rogers did outrebound AW, 32-21.
After leading 16-15 at halftime, Anthony Wayne opened a 28-18 lead before the Rams went on an 8-0 run to close the third quarter and get back to within two, 28-26, entering the fourth.
Six-foot-6 junior center Da’Sean Nelson scored six on that run and he was the only player in the game to reach double figures, scoring 12 points and getting a game-leading nine rebounds.
Rogers never led in the final quarter, however, despite a combined 13 field goals and six free throws missed by both teams.
AW junior guard Bobby Miller scored on a baseline jumper with 2:45 remaining and for the final Generals points of the night.
Somehow, AW’s defense managed to stave off the Rams, except for a layup by Nelson generated from a steal by senior guard Divontae Fitzpatrick with 1:30 left.
Three Generals scored eight points apiece: Miller, Allen and senior forward Max Bradfield. Allen and junior guard led AW in rebounds with five each.
AW senior guard Max Denman was held to five points, junior guard Kyle Ray scored four and Szul added two points.
Szul led the team with three assists and Denman, Ray and Miller had two apiece. Bradfield and Miller also blocked one shot each, and Miller had two steals.
For Rogers, junior guard Javonte Hayward had seven points and two steals, Fitzpatrick six points and two steals, junior Kevin McCoy four points and freshman guard Nate Houston three points and four steals.
Curtis Jackson, a 6-6 junior, did not score but had six rebounds for the Rams and Hayward grabbed five boards.