The Alpena boys basketball team made a statement in its home opener.
Andy Marwede scored 17 points and the Wildcats defeated Cadillac in a Big North Conference contest on Friday in a matchup of two of the top contenders for the conference title.
The Wildcats (3-1, 1-1 Big North) trailed 14-9 after one quarter, but picked it up the rest of the way and built a sizable lead by the end of the third quarter, playing with an energy that the Vikings couldn't quite match.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Brad Styma tries to drive past Cadillac’s Jalen Brooks during the third quarter of a boys basketball game on Friday at Alpena High School. Styma scored 10 points and was one of four Alpena players in double figures as Alpena won the game 62-49.
"It's huge. Cadillac is always the gold standard, them and Petoskey in our league so we know that we have a chance to take them at home we better take advantage of it," Alpena coach John Pintar said of the win. "We played Friday but it's like watching basketball the first week of the season, so I thought the first half was somewhat of a grind and I think we found ourselves in the third quarter."
Alpena entered the final quarter with a 45-29 lead, but a run by Cadillac early on cut the Wildcats' lead to nine, 48-39 with 5:44 left.
At that point, Marwede took over. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and was clutch from the free throw line, going 9-for-12 for the game. His aggressive play near the basket helped keep possessions alive and helped deal the Vikings their first conference loss.
"Andy can score man. He's a good player and he's long and he's got excellent skill for a kid his size," Pintar said. "It was huge for him to start getting inside and start getting some of those points in there."
Brooks led Cadillac with 21 points, but Cadillac's supporting cast kept the Vikings in the game late. A trey from Ty Pugh pulled Cadillac to within nine early in the fourth quarter and two buckets from Evan Ferritto a short time later cut the lead to nine again, 52-43.
Cadillac didn't get any closer than that as Alpena cranked up the defense the rest of the way and Cadillac missed several shots.
A three-pointer from Tyler Pintar helped Alpena pull away from Cadillac late in the second quarter and sent the Wildcats to halftime with a 23-19 lead.
The Wildcats used that momentum to open the third quarter on a 8-0 run that prompted the Vikings to call a time out. It didn't do much to slow the Wildcats though as Alpena continued to pour it on offensively while Cadillac struggled to keep up. Brooks scored seven points in the frame, but didn't get much support otherwise.
Alpena's offense came at Cadillac from all angles in the third quarter as Pintar, Marwede, Brad Styma, Cody Tucker and Ryan Cadarette were among those that scored for the Wildcats.
Pintar scored 16 points, Tucker added 11 and Styma chipped in 10 points.
Brooks and Justin Lupiak helped Cadillac get out to an early lead in the first quarter, but Lupiak was limited the rest of the way after scoring six points in the first quarter.
Alpena found its footing in the second quarter and put together an 8-0 run to take a 19-17 lead with 2:41 left. Cadillac tied the game a short time later, but Alpena took the lead for good after a free throw and Pintar's trey.
The win comes at a good time for the Wildcats as they prepare for a tough schedule next week that includes games at Sault Ste. Marie and Tawas and hosting Petoskey at home.
"It's going to be a test going to Sault and then Tawas on Tuesday, so we're going to see where our conditioning is at. It's just a mental thing, we've got to push through," Pintar said.
Cadillac's JV team topped the Wildcats 54-34. Austin Hemmingson led Alpena with 10 points and Braedan Werth added nine points.
Alpena's freshman team won 53-50 and was led by Camren DeCaire who scored 11 points. Jacob Vought added nine and Josh Lucas and Bailey Marquardt each added eight.
ALPENA (62): B. Hemmingson 0 1-2 1; A. Marwede 4 9-12 17; T. Pintar 5 3-3 16; C. Tucker 5 0-0 11; D. Hoes 2 2-3 6; B. Styma 3 3-5 10; R. Cadarette 0 1-2 1.
CADILLAC (49): J. Brooks 7 4-8 21; A. Emington 1 2-2 4; T. Derror 1 1-2 4; L. Finch 1 1-4 3; T. Pugh 1 0-0 3; E. Ferritto 2 1-2 5; T. Baker 1 0-0 2; J. Liptak 4 0-1 8.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.