Anthony Wayne's Matt Fox, left, takes a shot against Start's Richie Lynn. Fox scored 13 points in the season opener for both teams.
Anthony Wayne without 6-foot-10 University of Michigan boys basketball recruit Mark Donnal on the floor didn't seem so intimidating to Start on Saturday during a 61-29 win in a season-opener for both teams.
The Spartans kept pace with the Generals for a half as Donnal spent most of the first two quarters sitting on AW's bench after picking up two quick fouls early in the game. He didn't play at all during the second quarter, leaving him scoreless for the half, and the Generals and Spartans went into halftime with the score tied at 15.
However, Donnal came out of the halftime break and poured in a game-high 21 points to lead AW to a 61-29 rout of Start before an enthusiastic Generals homecourt crowd.
It was clear Donnal's time on the court made a world of difference for the Generals.
“I think he learned tonight you have to be mentally disciplined,” AW coach Bryan Borcherdt said of Donnal, regarding the two quick fouls that forced him to sit early in the contest.
The Generals opened the second half with a 15-4 run and led 30-19 when Donnal scored his second basket of the night with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in the third quarter.
Donnal, who didn’t score until midway through the third quarter, made his presence felt.
He scored eight points during the quarter but was also a distributor from the post position. He dished out three of his five assists during Anthony Wayne’s second-half run.
“We're pretty good when we can play inside-outside like that,” Borcherdt said.
Start's Michael Mitchell, left, battles Anthony Wayne's Jake Reid for a rebound.
AW finished the third quarter with a 34-21 lead and rode the momentum into the fourth. The Generals outscored the Spartans 27-8 during the final quarter as Donnal continued to assert himself, scoring 13 points during the period, including a breakaway two-hand dunk to make it 41-20 with 6:43 left.
“He benefits our team greatly when he's on the floor,” Borcherdt said.
Start led by as many as six points during the first half when Donnal was not on the floor.
However, Matt Fox, Jake Reid, and Grant Fiock kept AW in the contest. Fox scored five of his 13 points before halftime, while Reid scored four of his six points and Fiock four of his nine.
“The important thing [was] when Mark was not on the floor we were able to stay in the game,” Borcherdt said. “It wasn't pretty, but our defense kept us in the game.”
With Donnal in the middle of AW’s zone defense for most of the second half, the Generals went on to outscore the Spartans 46-14 in the final two quarters.
Scott Hicks paced the Spartans with a team-high eight points.
Dexter Johnson scored all seven of his points in the first half to carry the Spartans in the early stages of the game. Dion Ivery scored five of his nine points in the first half, all coming in the first quarter.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302, or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.