Manchester Boys Basketball Wins Season Opener

By: Seth Kinker, 

The Manchester Flying Dutchmen (1-0) boys basketball team opened  their season with a win, defeating the Tri-Valley Conference  Clinton Redskins (0-1) 66-43 on  Nov. 27

The win was the first for Mike Ahrens, who took over as head coach of the Flying Dutchmen this offseason. He’s a defensive minded coach who likes to full-court press, something Manchester has run in the past.

Paired with the high-pressure defense, Ahrens wants to push the ball offensively, looking for the outlet quick with everyone filling lanes down the court.

First quarter

Manchester jumped out to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter. The lead was built with exactly what Ahrens wants to do.

From help defense forcing turnovers leading to long passes and fast break points to making the extra pass for an easy look at the basket, they made the right play more often than not with multiple players getting in the scoring column and four players having four assists.

Junior point guard Ty Horky found junior center Braeden Caszatt with a full-court pass to end the quarter for an easy lay-up.

Horky ended the quarter with seven points, Caszatt had six, and seniors River Spitler and Devon Kelly both had four.

Second Quarter

Manchester built a 20-point lead heading into halftime, 36-16. Kelly had six points in the quarter while Horky had seven.

Kelly had multiple rebounds, an assist, and a block as the 6’ 8” senior forward made an impact on both ends of the floor throughout the night. He finished with 14 points, three blocks,  and had nine defensive rebounds alone.

Manchester went on a 12-5 run to end the half capped off by a Horky layup in traffic before the buzzer.

“It was the full-court pressure,” said Ahrens on the reason for their success in the first half. They held the Redskins to single digits in both quarters. “We work on that every night. I’m a defensive pressure coach. Sometimes it looks good and you can score a lot of points, sometimes you get beat. That goes back to mental toughness. Switches we have to work a little harder getting back. All five guys have to be complete in their assignments.”

Third Quarter

Manchester led 48-33 after the third quarter,

The offense had a dry spell in the middle of the quarter, but the lead built from the first half made a good enough buffer for Manchester to still hold a sizable lead.

“This offseason we worked on our defense, a big emphasis on defense,” said Horky, “Then hitting that outlet for the fast break for wide open layups.”

“We’re more baiting people into long passes we can pick off on the back side,” added Horky on the different style of full court press they’re playing this year. “I  think it’s  bigger than that, it’s not so much the steals in the frontcourt.”

Fourth Quarter

Redskins senior guard Mitchell Drabicki had 17 points to lead the Redskins with five three-pointers, but the balanced Manchester attack was too much.

A three-pointer from Drabicki to make it 48-36 at the start of the fourth quarter was the closest they would make it in the second half.

An inbounds play from Horky to Kelly in the paint who tapped it right to senior guard Tommy Tremblay for the easy lay up made it 53-36 later in the quarter. On the next trip down Horky hit a wing three to make it 56-36.

A nice bounce pass in transition from Horky to Caszatt ended the scoring for Manchester, winning 66-43.

Horky led the team with 25 points, Kelly had 14 and Caszatt had 13.

Horky, who had five threes on the night, played aggressively on offense attacking the lane and pulling up for open jump shots.

After working to get stronger and bigger in the weight room this offseason, Horky has also worked with athletic director Lavell Blanchard, a former professional basketball player.

“It’s a huge benefit,” said Horky. “He’s a great guy and we’ve been working on watching the (other guys) hips. Seeing what you can get, different looks for easy shots. Getting guys in foul trouble.

“Tonight, I learned we have a lot of work to do,” said  Ahrens. “Were up and down. In the third quarter had a lull in our offense. We talked in the locker room about how important mental toughness is at both ends of the game. We have to have all five players on the floor clicking. Overall, I was very, very pleased.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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