BY JOEL SENSENIG | MIRROR SPORTS — Junior Max Denman erupted for 28 points last Friday as the Anthony Wayne boys basketball team earned a hard-fought 63-61 victory over visiting Springfield, the Generals’ seventh straight win. Coming out hot, Denman scored AW’s first eight points of the contest, a fast-paced game in which the Blue Devils may have been playing with extra fight after losing junior Michael Key earlier in the week to a serious leg injury. Denman’s stat line included shooting 10-of-13 from the field (4-of-5 from beyond the arc) and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. He also led the team in rebounds with seven. Senior Andrew Murphy also came up big, scoring 16 points to go along with five assists for the Generals, who improved to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in the Northern Lakes League. Junior Tyler Dave scored 14 points for Springfield (2-10, 2-5 NLL). Although the Blue Devils maintained a lead for much of the second half, Denman said AW’s defensive pressure began to pay dividends as the game progressed. “I think we had some good pressure in the first half, caused some turnovers,” he said. “In the second half, we kept it up and we were making good defensive plays. “Brock (Nartker) was hustling, Josh (Boyer) was hustling, Murph was hustling. Everybody was making plays, so that’s just how we find a way to get back – defense turns into offense.” Denman scored AW’s first eight points in the first 2:22 of the game, a stretch that gave the home team an 8-4 advantage. The fast-paced first quarter resulted in a 22-20 lead for Springfield heading into the second, despite 13 points from Denman. The Generals kept up their strong play in the second, as four points from Boyer (six points, four rebounds, five assists) and a bucket from junior Nick Smith put AW up 30-29 midway through the stanza. The Devils closed out the quarter with nine straight points from Cameron Arce, Terrel Bryant, Denzel Prince and Deon Key to give them a 40-33 lead going into the break. The third quarter was evenly played, with each team scoring 11 points. Junior Max Bradfield (nine points) scored four, while Denman added five and Murphy netted another two. Springfield maintained a seven-point lead early in the fourth until Murphy came up with a steal and a layup, cutting the advantage to five at 57-52. Boyer then found Denman for a trey, which the latter followed with another bucket to tie the game at 57-57 with 4:45 to play. The remainder of the game was won largely at the foul line, as Murphy followed a bucket with two free throws, while Denman connected on 2-of-2 to help seal the win for Anthony Wayne. AW coach Josh Arthur gave credit to Springfield for playing much tougher than one might expect a two-win team to play. “You’ve got to give all the credit in the world to Springfield,” he said. “Losing Michael Key is a big key for them. He’s a great player, he’s a quick guy, he’s an inspirational guy and missing him hurt them a little bit. “But they are great and getting better every single day. They’re going to be a tough team in this second half – they’re going to be a real tough team.” Arthur said the Generals still have work to do as they prepare for the second half of the NLL season. “We have to work on our execution a little bit more,” he said. “Max and Andrew did a great job and kind of carried the offensive load today. We’ve got some little, minor injuries that we need to work with. “If we keep working on our execution and keep doing what we’re doing and trust the process, we should be OK.” AW 52, Evergreen 42 Three days earlier, the Generals won their sixth straight game, 52-42, over visiting Evergreen. Murphy paced the Anthony Wayne offense with 15 points, while Denman added 10 and Boyer had nine. The AW offense was consistent for most of the evening, maintaining a 6- to 10-point cushion throughout the game. Bradfield added seven points, while Ray and Nick Smith each had four and Nartker contributed three.