Wildcats on fire

The Alpena boys basketball team (13-4) played its second game of the week against Sault Ste. Marie (8-8) on Wednesday and got a momentum-building 65-57 win.

The win is a nice boost for the Wildcats as they head into a matchup Friday against Petoskey, a team the Wildcats lost to the last time they met.

“It’s a nice way to build up, a good home stand. It’s tough playing Monday, Wednesday and Friday but it’s great practice for the districts as it’s a situation that pops up often,” Alpena coach John Pintar said.

Tyler Pintar hit a field goal less than five seconds into the game and Sault’s Kyle Root hit a three-pointer 20 seconds later, before a Pintar field goal took the Wildcats to a 4-3 lead.

The Wildcats may not have relinquished the lead the rest of the game, but it wasn’t from lack of trying by the Blue Devils.

Alpena played tough man-to-man defense in the first quarter which slowed down a lot of offensive chances by the Blue Devils. Solid defensive rebounding by Luke Cordes and Andy Marwede kept the Blue Devils from second chance shots.

Offense from Cordes Pintar and Kam Fitzek help Alpena stretch to a 20-13 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw sustained offense from Alpena as the Wildcats added to their lead despite pressure from Sault. Anderson and Terrance Fuller of the Devils hit two field goals a piece and defensive pressure helped the Blue Devils narrow the lead to 28-24, but their scoring run dried up at the end of the half.

Pintar, Cordes and Fitzek continued to lead Alpena offensively and kept up strong defensive pressure. Pintar forced a lot of turnovers and hit a trey with five seconds left in the half to help stretch Alpena’s lead to 33-24.

The early part of the third quarter saw Alpena continue its offensive streak and with five minutes left in the quarter, Alpena was leading 41-24. The stretch included a tricky behind-the-back assist from Pintar to Cordes.

The last four minutes of the quarter belonged to the Blue Devils with Anderson hitting one of his two treys in the quarter and Root adding two baskets. Alpena didn’t score for the last two and a half minutes of the quarter, giving the Blue Devils a chance to get to a 47-39 spread.

“We got into a bit of a rut there in the third. We missed a lot of key shots and it threw us out of rhythm for a long time,” Pintar said.

Alpena’s offensive struggles continued into the fourth quarter. Brad Styma hit a shot in the first minute, but the Wildcats went scoreless for the next four minutes.

Sault was able to crawl back into the game thanks to scoring from Anderson and Fuller, who hit two free throws.

Fuller’s free throws came with four minutes left in the period and brought Sault to within five points, 49-44.

The Wildcats got fired up with three and a half minutes left to play as Pintar hit a three and Alpena pulled out to a 56-44 lead in less than a minute.

The game then turned into a free throw contest for the Wildcats as Sault desperately tried to catch up. Pintar missed seven of eight shots, however, Cordes and Kendziorski stayed accurate, with two free throws from Jake Kendziorski and six of eight for Cordes.

In spite of continued offensive effort by the Blue Devils, including a three by Ray’Shon Anderson that helped stretch the game to a 61-57 contest, the Wildcats were able to hit enough free throws to end the game ahead by eight.

The Alpena JV boys were also able to pull off a huge win with a 69-22 victory. Five players scored in double figures: Nick Skiba scored 17, Ryan Cadarette scored 13, Eli Martin scored 12, Cody Tucker scored 11 and Dylan Hoes scored 10.

Alpena’s freshmen team pulled off a 72-45 win. Mitch Mead and Kolin Ghidoni both scored 16 points while Brett Gapske and Joe Ayala each scored seven.

Alpena (65): J. Kendziorski 0-4-4-4: A. Marwede 0-3-4-3: T. Pintar 7-3-11-19: B. Styma 2-0-0-4: K. Fitzek 5-2-2-12: L. Cordes 6-9-14-23.

Sault (57): Ray’Nell Anderson 4-4-7-13: Ray’Shon Anderson 7-4-6-21: K. Root 2-3-4-8: M. Eiola 1-0-0-2: T. Fuller 5-3-4-13