Ponik wins debut as Posen beats Cards

POSEN-When asked to define his first win as a coach for the Posen boys basketball team after winning 63-55 over Whittemore-Prescott on Monday, one word came to mind immediately for Matt Ponik.


“Very excited, I’m happy for these guys, they worked hard. (I’m) just so excited,” Ponik said.

This is the first Posen victory for Ponik since he helped the Vikings win the 2005 quarterfinals as a varsity player.

Posen (1-0) fell behind 4-0 early in the first quarter, but an eight-point scoring streak by John Zaborney gave the Vikings an 8-6 lead, a lead it held all the way till the final shot of the half.

Zaborney had a double-double, picking up 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Vikings quickly pulled ahead to a 14-6 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter. The Cardinals picked up six unanswered points before Nick Hincka sank Posen’s last basket of the quarter with 30 seconds left.

The second quarter saw more even play between the two teams. Each team utilized tight man-to-man defense to shut down its opponent’s scoring chances.

The Vikings utilized effective rebounding offensively and defensively to gradually widen its lead. Posen snagged 51 rebounds, with Hincka and Travis Sharpe grabbing nine each.

“They just kept going for the rebounds, getting second and third chances to score.That’s what I look for as a coach. Not giving up and going after the basket,” Ponik said.

Hincka led Posen with 25 points and Sharpe picked up 12.

Posen shut down the Cardinals scoring for minutes at a time. The Vikings outscored the Whittemore 8-4 in the first five minutes of the second quarter to take a 24-18 lead with just under three minutes left in he half.

However, the Cardinals’ Azaiyah Bell and Travis MacDonald staged a comeback in the last two minutes of the half.

This comeback tied the game up 27-27 at the half.

Whittemore took a 29-27 lead eight seconds into the third, but were answered back 20 seconds later by Hincka. Hincka nearly single handedly shut down any Cardinals’ comeback attempt in the third by scoring 12 of Posen’s 17 points in the quarter.

This gave Posen a 46-38 lead with just over a minute to play. The Cardinals narrowed the lead to 46-42 after Bell hit a basket and a free throw and Jose Rodriguez hit a three with eight seconds left to go.

Bell scored 10 of Whittemore’s 15 points in the third quarter and led his team for the night with 17 points. Rodriguez pitched in with 15 of his own.

Posen clung to a four point lead until three minutes into the quarter. A Matt Wisniewski basket initiated a seven-point scoring streak by the Vikings over the next four minutes.

The Cardinals were held scoreless by the Vikings’ defense for nearly five minutes as Posen took a 57-46 lead.

It was too much of a lead for the Cardinals to overcome in less than two minutes in spite of a pair of treys late in the game.

“We were on them about defense, defense, defense and you know what? As the game went on, they didn’t get tired and that’s what I was happy about. Those guys dug deep and played tough defense,” Ponik said.

Posen plays tonight in Wolverine.

POSEN (63): B. Sukas 2-0-0-5; M. Wisniewski 1-0-0-2; T. Sharpe 4-4-6-12; L. Beccard 2-1-2-5; N. Hincka 7-10-20-25; C. Lewandowski 2-0-5-4; J. Zaborney 4-2-6-10.

WHITTEMORE (55): J. Rodriguez 6-1-2-15; A. Bell 7-2-2-17; T. MacDonald 4-0-2-9; G. Blust 1-0-0-2; T. Shoemaker 0-1-2-1; D. Santiago 3-2-3-8; N. Hankinson 1-1-2-3.

Eric Benac can be reached via email at ebenac@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.