Manchester Boys Basketball Defeats Adrian

By: Seth Kinker,

The Manchester Flying Dutchmen Boys basketball team, 4-5 (1-4), defeated the Adrian Maples, 2-4 (1-2), on Dec. 28 in non-conference action, their only game during holiday break, by a score of 65-60.

After fighting back from a first quarter deficit, the Dutchmen won the game down the stretch hitting their free throws. 

Dutchmen freshman Aiden Kelly made his varsity debut, scoring nine points and pulling down 11 rebounds with injuries prompting Manchester head coach Mike Ahrens to pull up Kelly for the rest of the season. 

First quarter

After the first four minutes of play, the Maples held a 9-4 lead. The opening sequence after the tip led to an alley oop for Maples senior forward Isaac Stiver. He finished with a team high 22 points as the 6’7” forward was a problem all night inside for the Dutchmen with the ability to step out and hit a jumper. 

The Maples had early success breaking the Dutchmen press, getting the ball down the court quickly leading to easy lay ups. 

After Dutchmen senior forward Devon Kelly picked up his second foul with 1:57, the Dutchmen switched to a zone after starting the game in a man to man defense. 

Aiden made his first varsity bucket with just under five minutes in the first quarter, a baseline drive. 

“I was really nervous but really proud of the way we played tonight,” said Aiden on his varsity debut. 

Aiden saved a Maple air ball with 25 seconds left but it went right to Stiver who was fouled and made both free throws for the 19-14 Maple lead after the first. 

“We generate a lot of our offense from our defense,” said Manchester head coach Mike Ahrens. “They broke us down that first quarter. We tried different combinations on defense and finally got five out there that were on the same page working hard, disrupting them, and that’s when the momentum changed.”

Second quarter

In the second quarter the Dutchmen slowly gained back control. They started the second on an 8-3 run to tie game at 22 with 4:45 remaining  off of a transition lay up from senior guard River Spitler

With the attention Horky has gotten as the season has progressed, Spitler has become vital as another ball handler to relieve some of that pressure. Whether it’s bringing the ball up the court, or facilitating the offense while Horky draws attention, Spitler staying aggressive and running the offense efficiently is key for the team moving forward. He finished with a team high five steals. 

Heading into the half, the Dutchmen held a 31-27 lead thanks to a late 7-0 run. 

First, Devon drove the lane and drew the foul with 1:42 left. He missed but, on the Maples, next possession, Horky had a tip to Spitler who threw it ahead to a streaking Horky for the easy lay-up. Next possession another tip ended with the ball in Devon’s hands, he threw it ahead to Horky for another easy lay-up with 1:05 in the quarter. 

With the Dutchmen in the double bonus, junior forward Braeden Caszatt hit one of two free throws with 19 seconds left. Caszatt finished second on the team with 11 points, adding seven rebounds and a team-high five blocks as the Dutchmen took a 31-27 lead into the half.

At halftime, Ahrens told The Sun Times staying aggressive was a focus with multiple Maples with two fouls. Attacking the defense with dribble penetration, looking for holes and seams, was something that Ahrens wanted his team to focus on in the second half. 

Third quarter

A quick two buckets from Devon and Horky led to a Maples timeout just over a minute into the half. Other than that, it was a sloppy third quarter for both sides as each team scored in the single digits

With 3:16 in the third Devon picked up his fourth foul on a charge, leading to Aiden subbing back in and matching up with Stiver. For the rest of the quarter, momentum swung in the Maples favor. They gained control on the boards and at the same time, the Dutchmen got good looks on offense but couldn’t get a shot to fall. 

The Dutchmen defense geld at the end of the quarter to hold a seven-point 39-32 lead. After the quarter, Maples head coach Jordan Kelly picked up a technical foul for arguing about the last possession. 

Ahrens told The Sun Times he wanted his team to be more patient after the sloppy third quarter while still wanting to run and attack. 

Fourth quarter

The fourth quarter was full of action as the teams combined for 54 points. 

After trading baskets to start the quarter to keep the score 43-34 in favor of the Dutchmen, Devon picked up his fifth foul on a charge with 6:49 remaining. 

Aiden took his place for the remainder of the game and stayed on Stiver. Despite Stiver leading the team in points, he could have had more as Aiden and the Dutchmen defense adjusted as the game went on, playing more physical with Stiver and forcing him out of his comfort zone. 

“I’m used to playing with Devon so it was a normal thing for me I guess,” said Aiden on his matchup against Stiver. “Devon makes me a lot better because I have to play defense against him.”

A 6-0 Maples run cut the Dutchmen lead to three with 5:12 remaining. Then, the Dutchmen answered with a 12-2 run to take a 52-42 lead with two big buckets from Caszatt, who had a big drive for an and one hitting his foul shot, and Aiden, who had an offensive rebound and put back. 

Three pointers got the Maples back into the game, they hit five in the fourth quarter alone, with most coming late. 

With 1:26 remaining, Aiden made one of two free throws with the Dutchmen in the double bonus for the 56-48 lead. 

Then, Maples freshman guard Joe Francis hit a deep three tp make it 56-51 with 1:12 remaining and the Maples committing a foul underneath. Aiden hit both of those free throws to boost the lead back to 58-51. 

Francis and Stiver both hit three pointers with under 30 seconds left but the Dutchmen sealed it at the line, hitting 14-17 free throws down the stretch as a team for the 65-60 victory. 

Horky had seven of those, going 7-8 from the line in the fourth quarter as he once again led the team with 25 points.  he also added three steals and four assists as his ability to play against double and triple teams leads to more opportunities for the offense. 

“He’s really young, only 16,” said Ahrens. “But he has game experience and he’s learning to not panic. Adrian-Madison with double and triple teaming him, sometimes he panicked. When that happens a guard usually puts his head down. Now, he’s keeping his head up that extra second, learning to use both hands to get out of trouble. Our bigs know anytime he’s loose on the baseline he’ll try and find them. Turned it over a couple of times but he’s gonna make a sincere effort to get the ball to them.”

For the Dutchmen, Aiden had a breakout game for his first varsity contest. The 6’ 5” frosh finished just shy of a double double, with nine points and 11 rebounds. 

“He didn’t back down,” said Ahrens on Aiden’s debut. Ahrens made the decision to pull Aiden up with senior forward Luther Westcott out for the season with a shoulder injury and Devon recovering from re aggravating an ankle injury.  “He only missed one shot. For your first varsity game with only two practices under your belt against a class A school, he answered. His brother’s healing has been slow with the ankle. Aiden has had an outstanding JV season, I like his style of play, he takes pride on defense, I think he’s got a great future in front of him.” 

On Jan. 9 the Dutchmen travel to Michigan Center. 

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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