PIGEON — Another night, another reshuffle at the top of the Greater Thumb West boys basketball standings.
Title contender Cass City remained in the wild fray here Wednesday night with an important road victory at pesky Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port. The Red Hawks once again used a balanced scoring effort combined with just enough defensively to secure a hard-fought 59-48 win over the Lakers.
Cass City is among four teams with one loss in the super-tight GTW. Red Hawk coach Jim Green knows the importance of stealing victories on the road in the league.
“Any GTC coach is going to be happy getting a road win,” he said. “In general, I was pretty happy. We played hard. We made some mistakes, but I give Lakers credit for that. They are an improving team which hustles. They made us fight for everything.”
Cass City never trailed, though was pushed by the Lakers until the waning moments. The Red Hawks led by just four after three quarters, and weren’t able to put EPBP away until they hit 8-of-10 free throws in the final period.
“Fortunately, we were able to keep our head above water the whole night,” Green said. “If they would have went ahead of us, I am not sure what would have happened.”
For the Lakers, first-year coach Jeremy Macejewski has seen this script play out too many times for his team. EPBP has just two wins, but the Lakers have been in most of their games until the final few minutes.
“This game’s kind of been like our season,” Macejewski said. “We have played pretty well at times, and then we have some stretches in games where we don’t play well.
“We battled hard, but battling hard in this league is not enough. I like our effort, but we have to get over the hump.”
Cass City was paced by post player Cameron Dunnuck’s 22 points, 14 of them coming in the second half when the Red Hawks made a deliberate effort to get the ball inside to their big guys. Guard Justin Ketterer added 15 points while backcourt mate Cody Orban netted 12.
“Early on, we didn’t do a very good job of getting the ball inside,” Green said. “Fortunately, we were hitting some outside shots. In the second half, we concentrated on getting the ball inside and (Dunnuck) did a nice job for us.
“We were reversing the ball better and he was getting a lot of one-on-one chances.”
After a slow start to the season, Dunnuck is averaging 19 points over his last four outings. That’s probably due in part to Cass City’s improved outside shooting. The Red Hawks hit just seven three-pointers in their first six games. In contrast, they have knocked down 24 threes in their last five games.
“No team is going to survive around here being one dimensional,” Green said. “Since Christmas, we have been knocking down some threes and getting it inside. We’ve had some balance.”
The Lakers were led by freshman Paul Zwemmer, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his second varsity game. Chase Voelker added 13 points while Tim Warack chipped in six.
Zwemmer, at 6-foot-4, was brought up to help the Lakers on the glass, but has contributed in the scorebook, as well.
“He is playing pretty well,” Macejewski said. “We’re kind of looking for an identity with him in there. With him on the floor, it’s going to take some time.
“We have gone from a team that was running and gunning to now where we are looking to be patient. I like where we’re headed, though.”
Cass City led 19-10 after one quarter and 29-22 at the break. The Lakers remained close, but could never take the lead, settling for a 42-38 deficit heading to the final eight minutes. From there, a Dunnuck offensive rebound putback and three-point play with 1:49 left basically sealed the Red Hawk victory.
Cass City, 6-5 overall, 2-1 GTW, has another critical league contest Friday at home against Vassar (6-4, 2-1). EPBP, now 2-8, 0-3, travels to Bay City All Saints (7-3, 3-1) Friday.
“You have to have effort each night in this league,” Green said. “The team which consistently does that will start to rise to the top.
“We’ve struggled with that in the past, but hopefully we can continue what we’ve started...”
|Cass City’s Cameron Dunnuck eyes the bucket against EPBP’s Paul Zwemmer.|