A bang, not a whimper
Tyler Kollien chucked up a long three-pointer and raised his arms in triumph as he raced down the basketball court.
Not five seconds later, Gavin Aikens stole the ball and raced it for a layup, eliciting a roar from a packed Alpena High School crowd.
It was just that kind of night for the Alpena High School boys basketball team; a night when everyone on the roster contributed to cap off one of the best regular seasons in school history.
Andy Marwede scored 17 points and for Alpena players reached double figures as the Wildcats defeated Ogemaw Heights 78-47 at Alpena High School on Thursday to win their 18th game in a row and finish the regular season at 18-1.
The Wildcats were awarded the Big North Conference title after the game after they finished the season with an 11-1 conference record.
“I knew we were going to be good, but I didn’t know how good we were going to be,” Alpena junior Tyler Pintar said. “To win that many in a row is just incredible, but I don’t think you can come into a season knowing you’re going to win that many games.”
The Wildcats (18-1) won the way they won so many others this season: they started fast, put on a shooting display and set the tempo defensively.
Alpena jumped out to a 20-7 lead after one quarter and was never in danger of losing its lead. The Wildcats did their fair share of scoring in the paint, but had a solid night from the field. Nearly all of Alpena’s starters hit jumpers and the Wildcats finished the night with nine three-pointers.
While starters like Marwede and Pintar had strong games, it was Alpena’s bench that provided some of the night’s more exciting moments.
Eli Martin scored 12 points for Alpena and Kollien’s triple and Aiken’s layup were among those plays that had Alpena’s players standing up on the sideline and cheering loud.
“It was a great night to culminate our regular season with the way we’ve done it. You want to win, but you want the guys to enjoy it and have fun,” Alpena coach John Pintar said. “They’ve put a lot of pressure on themselves, so to have everyone come in and contribute in some way was the ultimate for what I consider a great team.”
Alpena led 37-13 at halftime and kept up its strong defensive efforts, controlling the boards, going after loose balls and creating chaos on both ends of the floor.
Tyler added 13 for Alpena and Cody Tucker chipped in with Alpena.
Ben Hartley led Ogemaw with 14 points and Dillon Zettel chipped in with 13.
The Wildcats led 58-27 after three quarters and Alpena’s bench sent the majority of the fourth quarter on the floor. Brett Hemmingson, Aikens, Kollien, Martin and Ryan Cadarette were among those that scored. All but one of Alpena’s eight seniors scored at least one point.
Despite their incredible run, the Wildcats won’t be able to rest on their laurels for too long. The Wildcats will host Marquette in a district quarterfinal on Monday and will be in for a tough test.
“It’s amazing and it doesn’t happen often. The Big North Conference is one of the best conferences around and it’s just a great accomplishment for us to go out there and win it for our team and everyone else,” Tyler said. “We have to focus on bigger things though and put this behind us.”
Alpena’s JV team beat Ogemaw 57-42. Braeden Werth led Alpena with 23 points, Caleb Myers had 11 and Austin Hemmingson had 10.
Alpena’s freshman team won 41-18 and finished 8-8 for the season. Barrett Jones had 12 points and Jacob Vought added six points.
ALPENA (78): Aikens 3 0-0 7; B. Hemmingson 1 0-0 3; A. Marwede 7 2-2 17; T. Pintar 5 2-3 13; C. Tucker 4 2-2 11; D. Hoes 1 0-0 2; B. Styma 0 4-4 4; E. Martin 5 0-0 12; R. Cadarette 0 1-3 1; T. Kollien 1 0-0 3; K. Smith 2 0-0 5.
OGEMAW (47): J. Ignasiak 2 0-0 5; B. Hartley 6 2-3 14; D. Zettel 4 4-5 13; D. Griffus 1 0-0 2; M. vonKronenberger 1 0-0 2; J. Zygiel 1 0-0 2; A. Stevens 3 1-4 7; E. Fader 1 0-0 2.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.