It was billed as a battle between two imposing post players with Big Ten futures but the tussle between Northern Lakes League boys basketball preseason favorites Anthony Wayne and Bowling Green came down to the supporting cast.
The Generals got off to a quick start with a 10-0 lead, then held off the Bobcats 58-52 Friday at AW's packed gym.
Anthony Wayne, picked to win the league, remained undefeated in the NLL (4-0) and improved to 7-1 overall.
Anthony Wayne senior Mark Donnal, who will play next season at the University of Michigan, finished with 14 points. The 6-foot-10 forward also grabbed 16 rebounds.
But fellow senior Hunter Debo, who had three 3 pointers, finished with 11 points for AW. The Generals had seven players who scored as Matt Fox had eight, while Ose Omofoma, James Baker, and Hunter Johnson each chipped in with seven.
The Generals' bench players also outscored BG's subs 14-0.
“Mark carries the load … but tonight it was about the supporting cast,” AW coach Bryan Borcherdt said. “I'm so proud of those guys. We talked before the game about being a brotherhood. When we're in the trenches together you have to fight. When you have a guys like Mark, he attracts so much attention it takes other guys stepping up. That was a team victory tonight.”
Bowling Green's big man, senior Vitto Brown (6-8), got into early foul trouble. Brown, who will play at Wisconsin, still scored a game-high 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Andrew Herringshaw, who nailed four 3 pointers, finished with 14 points. LaMonta' Stone finished with nine points for Bowling Green.
The Bobcats, who were picked to finish second, lost their fifth straight and fell to 3-6 overall and 2-2 in NLL play.
“They seemed to get a key drive or basket out of a sub that we didn't get,” BG coach Von Graffin said. “We had to battle back so hard, we couldn't get over the hump.”
The Generals jumped out to a 10-0 lead as Brown sat with foul trouble. Donnal had half of those points during the early run.
“That 10-0 run in the first quarter was huge,” Donnal said. “It really gave us momentum.”
Brown was sent to the bench with his second foul just 1:28 into the game.
“I knew whoever could keep their big on the floor longer would be the team that would win tonight,” Graffin said. “Vitto had two touch fouls right off the bat and sat. But he did some good things in the second quarter and got us back in the game.”
Bowling Green finally got onto the board when Evan Gardner hit a 3 pointer to make it 10-3. But Anthony Wayne closed the quarter with 3 pointers from Matt Fox and Baker over the final minute. Baker drilled his 3 with two seconds left in the opening quarter as the Generals seized a 18-5 lead.
But BG opened the second with a 9-0 run as Brown returned and sparked the Bobcats with four points. Bowling Green moved to within four points with an 11-2 run before Debo drained a 3.
The Bobcats then pulled back within four on Brown's 3. But Debo answered with a 3 and Donnal completed a three-point play for a 30-21 AW lead.
Despite the early foul trouble, Brown had nine points and three rebounds at the half. Donnal had seven rebounds and six points at the half.
BG opened the second half with a 8-3 spurt but AW responded with a 7-0 run. The Bobcats then started the fourth quarter with a 5-0 spurt to make it 46-42. Herringshaw then had a look at a 3 to make it a one-point game but Jake Reid grabbed the rebound which led to a three-point play by Omofoma. The six-point swing gave the Generals a 49-42 lead.
“We were able to do the things we needed to do down the stretch. We have a lot of guys who are inexperienced who stepped up tonight,” Borcherdt said.
He said Johnson, Debo and Baker penetrated to the basket, made 3s or grabbed key rebounds.
Graffin said pour foul shooting in the fourth doomed his team.
“It's a marathon and not a sprint,” he said. “We are thinking long term. We are still in the mix.”
Perrysburg is the only other undefeated team in the NLL and the Yellow Jackets square off against the Generals next Tuesday at Perrysburg. Anthony Wayne has not won an NLL championship since 1997-98.
“[The 10-0 start[ was big obviously, only wining by six,” Borcherdt said. “We know they are a good team and they're well coached and they wouldn't go away quietly. In this league you have to win your home games. Perrysburg is good team and we look forward to a good game over there.”
Contact Mark Monroe at:
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