The Alpena boys basketball team has been on a steady roll lately with five straight wins.
The Wildcats will be playing the last of three games this week tonight and will try to keep that streak going against a tough Petoskey team this is currently leading the Big North Conference.
The last time Alpena (13-4, 6-4 Big North) played Petoskey(12-2, 8-1), the Wildcats fell hard in a 63-43 defeat and Alpena coach John Pintar believes the Wildcats can turn the tables on Petoskey this time.
"They play hard and they're a really good team. They have great defense and they focus on the fundamentals which makes them tough to beat, but they're not unbeatable," he said.
Pintar also believes the first game against Petoskey was not typical for his team.
"That was easily our worst game this season. Especially in terms of scoring and offense. We've come a long way since then and I think we can really give them a hard time," he said.
Petoskey at Alpena,
7:30 p.m. tonight
Alpena High School
Petoskey has a relatively small team, but the Northmen have some key players that Alpena is going to have to guard against if it wants to win.
Erik Davenport has been a team leader for Petoskey all year, helping them them in tight victories over Ogemaw Heights and Traverse City West. Davenport is averaging 18 points a game in conference play.
Sam Baumgather is another player that could give Alpena some trouble if he's left unguarded.
Alpena has its own group of solid players that gave been crucial to the Wildcats' current winning streak. The most obvious leader is 6-8 center Luke Cordes, who leads the Big North in scoring at 18.3 points a game in conference contests.
"Luke is a rock solid player. He is somebody who scores 20 a game regularly. He's good under the basket, he's good at moving the ball, he's great on defense and he can hit threes and free throws. He's an all around excellent athlete and should be key to the game," Pintar said.
Sophomore point guard Tyler Pintar will also be a key player for the Wildcats against Petoskey, because he's able to move past multiple defenders and score. Pintar has grown as a passer and regularly sets up teammates with behind-the-back passes.
Other players that could make a huge difference for Alpena are Andy Marwede and Brad Styma. Marwede is an ace shooter and rebounder and Styma is a fast paced, team-oriented player that sets up his teammates and works hard defensively.
Above all, the Wildcats will need to come into the game with a great amount of intensity.
"The key to the game will be to match their intensity. Last time we played, we made too many mistakes in the third, let them get on a hot streak and failed to trap them the way we should have. If we can focus on minimizing mistakes, staying aggressive and intense and playing fundamentally sound basketball, we shouldn't have a problem," Pintar said.