BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Anthony Wayne boys basketball was clicking on all cylinders during a 65-47 Northern Lakes League victory over visiting Napoleon on January 7.
AW scored the first 10 points of the game and led 15-3 after one quarter and 32-14 at halftime in cruising to their fourth NLL victory at the Dick Albaugh Physical Education and Athletic Center.
The Generals are 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the NLL, while Napoleon is 3-9 (1-5).
Senior guard Zac Szul led the way with 19 points and two steals, scoring eight of his team’s first 10 points, including two drives to the basket and scoring on a feed from senior guard Kyle Ray.
As a team, AW shot 48 percent from the field and made all five of its free-throw chances. On defense, the Generals forced 19 Napoleon turnovers while committing just 11.
AW employed a full-court, trapping pressure defense for nearly the entire game.
“We really talked about getting some rotations, doing some new things with our press, which is what we’d been talking about doing all week,” Szul said.
“So it was good to play at our pace and pick up the speed of the game. It was a lot of fun.”
The Generals carried it over from their 65-58 win over Wauseon the previous week.
“We tried to do the same thing – just build with what we did with Wauseon, even Southview (in a fourth-quarter comeback attempt) a little bit,” said AW coach Josh Arthur. “We just wanted to get a little better.”
“We gave Wauseon some trouble with our pressure and that turned over to this game,” Ray added, “getting up the floor early, making them uncomfortable dribbling the ball. It resulted in a lot of turnovers and transition points for us off turnovers.”
Arthur says his team can do that because of its depth.
“One thing about our team is our depth – we are a solid 10-deep,” he said. “We play 10 guys every single game. There hasn’t been a game where we haven’t as long as they are healthy and ready to play.
“Everyone was ready and it was nice seeing Garret Pike hit a couple threes for us. Kyle got back to his old self, started putting the ball through the hole for us and he did a great job maneuvering.”
In the second half, Szul and senior guard Bobby Miller were consistently getting to the rim but could not finish. Otherwise, Anthony Wayne might have blown the game wide open. Instead, Napoleon was able to get some defensive stops in the third quarter.
“It became very physical down there and we weren’t getting many calls. I know Bobby and I have just got to finish,” Szul said.
Ray scored eight points and Miller and junior forward Evan Ruhe had seven apiece. Senior forward Bryce Boyer and junior guard Dominic Debo added six points each.
Senior guard Ben Wyrick and junior guard Garret Pike scored five each and sophomore guard Jacob Copley had two points for AW.
On defense, Wyrick had four steals, Miller had three and Ruhe and Copley had two apiece.
Pike and senior forward Nick Huffman led the Generals with four rebounds each. They had 26 rebounds to Napoleon’s 28.
The Wildcats, who were 19-for-43 from the field and 7-for-10 from the charity stripe, were led by senior Landon Willeman, who had 16 points and two steals.
Junior Isaac Fraker had 10 points, two steals and four rebounds and sophomore Josh Mack added nine points and four rebounds.
Junior Gaven Brubaker had six points, junior Jarrett Gerdeman scored four and junior Zack Rosebrook had two points and five rebounds for the Wildcats.