SSC boys grind out win
STANDISH — No one was claiming Standish-Sterling's 46-38 victory over Ogemaw Heights on Friday was a thing of beauty. But clearly, the Panthers were happier with the outcome than the Falcons, no matter how much of the contest played out.
"It was a non-aesthetic win, that's for sure," said SSC coach Tom Murray. "We needed it, though, so we'll be happy with it and move on. We need to play much better than that, though."
With both teams still trying to find their identity thanks to significant graduation losses, injuries and multiple bad-weather postponements, points were at a premium as the Falcons and Panthers engaged in one of their usual knockdown drag-out slugfests.
"Both teams were pretty jacked up," Murray said. "Part of it (the sloppy play) is that SSC-Ogemaw rivalry, especially in the boys sports where it seems like all the games between the two have been pretty big. No one ever really settled down."
"We're definitely a work in progress," said Falcon coach Jon VanOosten. "We tried some things to night. Some things worked, others didn't. We played well in spurts but we're still searching."
Cole Walderzak's breakaway two-handed dunk to open the fourth quarter finally turned the momentum SSC's way for good. Though the Panthers' bench received a technical foul for an over-enthusiastic celebration of the play -- Ogemaw's Justin Wejsa hit two free throws to cut the SSC lead to 30-24 -- the Panthers went on to take control of the game with a 10-4 run that build up a 12-point lead.
The Falcons tried to come back in the final minutes as Jason Immel drilled a 3-pointer and Wejsa hit two more technical foul free throws, but that was as close as the Falcons could get.
"Everyone (in the league) is kind of feeling their way out right now," Murray said. "I'm not sure anyone is really happy with the way they're playing yet. Our circumstances have been lousy and Ogemaw's have been horrible. We need to focus on overcoming (our own) adversity and getting better."
Ogemaw took a quick 7-2 lead in the first quarter, aided by Alex Jennings' 4-point play, but then the Falcon offense went into a deep slumber as they scored just eight points from the middle of the first quarter to midway through the third period.
SSC's went on a 20-8 run over the period, with Trevor Karbowski and Trevor Trombley hitting 3-pointers as the Panthers got some strong play off their bench.
"Tanner and Trevor Trombley really came in and did an nice job," Murray said. "And Karbs had a great run while he was in there with his scoring and ball movement in the second quarter."
The 6-8 Walderzak and 6-7 Jennings provided some of the night's best highlights, from Walderzak's dunk to Jennings' two 3-pointers and some exchanges of blocked shots and box-outs under the basket.
"They were pretty good," VanOosten said. "They'll really be going at it the next couple of years."
Jennings led the Falcons (0-3, 0-2 NEMC) with 14 points, with Anthony Zettel adding eight.
Mark Lorence led SSC (3-1, 2-0) with 16 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, while Walderzak and Karbowski each had 10.