By: Seth Kinker, email@example.com
The Manchester Flying Dutchmen boys basketball team, 5-6 (2-5), went 1-1 last week in two conference games.
First, they traveled to Michigan Center on Jan. 8, falling 52-43. They held a three-point halftime lead, but the offense went cold in the second half against an experienced Cardinal team.
On Jan. 10, the Dutchmen hit the road once again, traveling to Napoleon to take on the Pirates and coming away with their first regular season win at Napoleon since 2007. In 2011 the Dutchmen won a postseason district title at Napoleon.
The Dutchmen started out on a quick 6-0 run to force a Pirate timeout less than three minutes in to the game. Dutchmen junior point guard Ty Horky had four of those, he led the team with 31 points on the night leading all scorers.
Less than a minute after that timeout, the Pirates had tied the game at eight.
A driving lay-up from senior guard River Spitler made it 14-9 with under two minutes left and at the end of the quarter the Dutchmen held a 17-15 lead.
In the second quarter Pirate senior guard Tobin McCrum kept them in the game, scoring 8 of the 13 Pirate points. He led the Pirates with 16 points
The Pirates were controlling the glass early and broke the Dutchmen press in the first half and with 1:59 remaining, the Dutchmen called a timeout after a floater from Pirate junior Tyler Owen gave the Pirates their biggest lead of the game at 28-23.
Heading into the half, the score was even at 28. Manchester head coach Mike Ahrens wanted to address his team’s defensive press, which was beaten early.
“They did a good job of passing the ball,” said Ahrens on the Pirates effectiveness against the press early. “That’s one thing we talked about at halftime, when the ball progresses up the floor, backing up. Every time they make a drivel towards the basket, you gotta back up otherwise it’ll got right over the top. And all 5 have to adjust otherwise it can turn to a lay-up pretty quick.”
Throughout the night Spitler and the Dutchmen offense had been effective in getting to the rim. In the third quarter, Spitler had a lay-up and forced two more fouls getting to the rim.
For the Pirates it was junior Spencer Johnson keeping them in it, scoring the first six Pirate points in the quarter to match the Dutchmen as he finished with 15 to follow McCrum. An and one opportunity for Pirate sophomore Alex Darnell tied the game at 39 with the teams trading baskets to go into the fourth, 41-41.
Dutchmen senior forward Devon Kelly was much more effective in the second half, he began to control the glass and put his head down to get to the rim as the Dutchmen looked to space the floor better offensively.
D. Kelly had 12 of his 14 points in the first half en route to a 14-point 10 rebound double.
Throughout the night the Pirates had an answer every time the Dutchmen tried to pull away. With under three-minute left, a three pointer from Dutchmen junior guard Ty Horky put the Dutchmen up seven leading to a Pirate timeout.
For the rest of the game the Pirates played a full court press defense, giving the Dutchmen problems.
With under a minute left McCrum hit a three ball to make it 57-53, still in favor of the Dutchmen. A long pass after the basket resulted in a turnover for the Dutchmen followed by a foul with 46 seconds left. In the bonus, Pirate senior Collin Bradley made both to make it 57-55.
On the ensuing inbounds play, the Dutchmen struggled to get it past mid court but right before the whistle for the violation, Ahrens called a timeout. With 39 seconds.
Dutchmen freshman forward Aiden Kelly was fouled with 31 seconds with the Dutchmen in the double bonus. He stepped to the line and sank both free throws in a raucous home gym to make it 59-55.
A lay up from Pirate junior Jared Viers cut the lead back to two, but on the following long inbound pass for the Dutchmen, Viers committed an intentional foul. A mid-air shove of A. Kelly gave the Dutchmen two free throws and possession with 14 seconds left. He went one for two from the line and Horky added two free throws with 10 seconds to seal the win, 62-57.
Three players had three assists for the Dutchmen and although they only shot 48 percent from the free throw line, they made 8-11 free throws in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
The win was the first road win against Napoleon since 2007. For Ahrens, a goal this season has been getting four good consistent quarters from his team. He’s seen their potential and thought that the win on Jan. 10 was the team’s best outing thus far.
All year long we haven’t played a good solid 4 quarters. To beat the good teams, you have to pay four good quarter at both ends, we’re working on that,” said Ahrens after the game. “I’ve got to look at stats and reevaluate, but overall this might have been our best four quarters.”
Manchester hosts Vandercook Lake Jan. 16.