HAMPSHIRE – The Wheaton Academy boys basketball team exploded for 23 third quarter points to break open a close contest with Genoa-Kingston in the teams’ final pool play game of the Burlington Central MLK Classic Saturday.
The Warriors continued the scoring barrage in the fourth quarter to swamp the Cogs, 74-37.
“We kind of got caught in the trap of playing up tempo, which is what they wanted to do against us,” said G-K coach Corey Jenkins. “And we wanted to value the possession and take the air out of the ball and it just didn’t happen.”
The two teams played an even first half, with G-K trailing only by four, 25-21 at intermission.
The Cogs actually outscored Wheaton, 19-15, from the field during the first 16 minutes. Thanks to a tightly called game, the Warriors made seven trips to the free-throw line and sank 10 free throws during the first two quarters.
Wheaton (11-5) started the second half with a 16-4 run, scoring the first 11 points of the third quarter. G-K (6-12) sank only four free throws during the Warriors’ scoring blitz. A Michael Trzynka layup with 2:10 left in the third quarter was the Cogs’ first basket of the second half. By the end of the period, the Warriors widened the lead to 48-29.
“[At halftime], we really stressed playing better defense, more sound and in working the ball a lot more on offense,” Wheaton coach Steve Thonn said. “And in the third quarter, we got it going.”
“We put up a couple of shots that didn’t need to be taken and the next thing you know they are on a 6, 7-0 run and that hurt us,” Jenkins said.
Wheaton poured in 26 points during the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
“Genoa did a good job in the first half. They were taking it to us, and I think we weren’t working the ball on offense,” said Thonn. “We were doing a lot of one pass and shoot. And on defense we were playing hard, but not playing smart, so you’re giving up a lot of easy shots and then taking bad shots on the offense of side, so that’s why the game was close.”
G-K took a brief 7-6 lead in the first quarter on a Nate Nesler basket and only trailed by three, 14-11, at the end of the frame.
The Cogs tied the game at 21-all with three minutes left in the first half when Brett Marth made a 3-pointer from the right corner. Wheaton’s J.D. Gunn sank two free throws to put the Warriors back on top. The senior led all scorers with 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and made two steals.
By the numbers: Junior Griffin Hansen led G-K scoring with 14 points.
Wheaton’s Gerald Blackmon was the only other player in double figures with 12.
Beyond the stats: The Cogs found themselves in foul trouble at the start of the second half. Both Kollin Fugate and Trzynka were whistled for their third violations early in the third quarter.
Both ended the night with four infractions, while Justin Peters fouled out.
They said it: “He is our leader and he has to score for us to be successful.” Jenkins said about Hansen.
Up next: G-K, with a 0-3 MLK Classic Pool B record, plays North Boone from Pool A for fourth place Monday.