Shorter Mustangs struggle to stop Wolverines in home loss
LE GRAND -Choosing how to defend Sean Morgan is a tricky situation.
And trying to slow the Wolverines’ lengthy and agile front line isn’t much easier.
East Marshall boys basketball coach Cole Anderson found a bit of a solution for both in the second half, but it was too little too late for the Mustangs in a 56-31 loss to Dike-New Hartford in NICL cross-divisional play Thursday.
Morgan, one of three Wolverines 6-foot-4 or taller, led the visitors with a game-high 16 points – all in the first half. The 6-foot-5 senior forward scored three straight baskets to cap a 15-0 flurry as the visitors jumped out to a 17-5 lead late in the first.
A driving layup from Josh Wilson, a trey from Mitch Berry and another from Walker Steward brought the Mustangs back within six (19-13) midway through the second, before the Wolverines unleashed another run. Dike-New Hartford’s towering trio of Morgan, Maccoy Camarata and Grant Kobriger combined for 13 straight points as the Wolverines stretched their lead to 32-13 at the break.
Anderson likened Morgan to West Marshall’s 6-foot-6 Michael Newton – the NICL West Outstanding Player last year – when describing the difficulty in defending the Wolverines’ versatile threat.
“If you try to guard him in the post, he’ll post you up and take you there,” Anderson said.
“Or if he has an opening, he’ll step back and take a 10-footer. He has a very well-rounded game.”
Dike New-Hartford’s front line trio combined for 30 of the team’s 32-first half points, as the Mustangs (2-12, 2-8) struggled to find an answer defensively with only one player in their starting five standing taller than 6-foot.
The Wolverines’ length also created issues at the defensive end as they wreaked havoc in the passing lanes to spark some fast-break opportunities.
“They’re a great defensive team man on man,” Anderson said.
“They find their guy, lock into you and play great denying defense. They don’t want you to catch the ball and if you do, they’re right up in your shorts.”
The Mustangs slowed the Wolverines’ inside attack a bit in the second half by packing in their 2-3 zone and daring Dike-New Hartford (7-8, 3-5) to shoot outside.
It was a move Anderson considered making in the first half, but was afraid it would leave his squad vulnerable on the boards.
“We should have probably played that (2-3 zone) earlier, but I didn’t know if we were going to be able to box out,” Anderson said.
“We played much better defense and got the ball moving more on offense. The first half (deficit) was just too much.”
The teams traded buckets in the third as East Marshall struggled to find its touch from outside making just 6-of-20 from beyond the arc.
A layup from Wilson narrowed the deficit to 17 early in the fourth but the Mustangs couldn’t get any closer on their way to a third straight defeat.
Berry made a trio of 3s and led the home team with 11 points, while Ben Terrones had eight and Wilson added six. Kobriger and Camarata scored eight points apiece for the Wolverines. Byron Fritch added seven points and Tom Koop had six.
The Mustangs are back in NICL West action tonight against AGWSR on the road.
Entering Thursday, the Mustangs led the NICL West in both 3-point makes (73) and attempts (256), while the Wolverines are last respectively in both categories at (48) and (153) in the NICL East.