Anthony Wayne senior Mark Donnal heard the early negative chants from the Maumee student section and quickly silenced them.
Donnal turned the “Overrated!” shouts from the Panther fans into a “You can't stop him!” from the General faithful. The 6-foot-10 senior center dominated in all facets of Anthony Wayne's 64-54 win against visiting Maumee on Friday night in a key Northern Lakes League game.
Donnal finished with a double-double to help Anthony Wayne stay on top in the league. At the midpoint of the NLL season, the Generals are tied with Perrysburg for first place. Both are 6-1.
Donnal scored 34 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. He also hit two 3-pointers and had three thunderous dunks.
Donnal scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in the opening quarter, then he had 12 points in the second as AW seized a 13-point lead at the half.
“It's not usually until later when they say 'overrated.' But they came out with it early and I got off to a good start, so those chants went down a little bit,” Donnal said. “I keep that in the back of my head.”
Donnal, who will play next season at the University of Michigan, scored his 30th point of the night on a dunk off of a lob pass to give the Generals a commanding 56-34 lead late in the third quarter.
Anthony Wayne coach Bryan Borcherdt said the last few games Donnal has “brought it up a level.”
“When he comes to play he is pretty unstoppable,” Borcherdt said. “[The negative chants] motivate you. He's under a microscope all the time, and people are constantly analyzing you. He handles it very well. That's how competitors are. I hope more people do that.”
Generals junior guard Matt Fox chipped in with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Anthony Wayne (10-2 overall), the preseason pick to win the NLL, led 34-21 at the half.
Fox's alley-oop pass to Donnal early in the third led to a huge slam and gave AW a 14-point edge.
“This was a big win,” Fox said. “Mark Donnal came out and did his thing tonight. That was key for us. It's big for the crowd. It gets them into it. It's nice to have a big guy because if you get in trouble, you can throw it up to him and he'll go get it. He's athletic, too. When we throw those lobs they just get everyone going.”
Maumee (10-3, 4-3), which was picked to finish second to last in the NLL, outscored the Generals 18-8 in the fourth quarter to keep it close.
Maumee senior guard Dominique King poured in 23 points, including four 3-pointers. Sean McGovern and Jason Wannamaker each had 10 points for the Panthers.
Maumee coach Derrick Sheridan said falling behind early and lack of success on the boards spelled trouble.
“We put ourselves in position at the end but when you get yourself in a pit like that it's awfully hard to dig out of it,” Sheridan said. “Defensively we had so many breakdowns”
Donnal had 18 of his points and eight of his rebounds in the first half.
“When you have a document with your signature on it that says that the University of Michigan is going to pay for your college education because you can play basketball, that's all that needs to be said,” Sheridan said. “Mark's a very good basketball player.”
Donnal said the Generals found the open man which led to easy looks from down low and from the perimeter.
“Personally I like the alley-oop,” Donnal said. “It's the most exciting play in basketball. It's always fun when they throw it up there and I go and catch it.”
His momentous dunk with 1 minute, 10 seconds left stemmed the tide of a 15-5 Maumee run late.
The Generals were without senior starter Hunter Debo, who is injured, and senior Grant Fiock, who has left the team.
Borcherdt said his team played really well except for the fourth quarter.
“Through three quarters were executed as well as we have all year,” he said.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.