WADSWORTH — Austin White was a man on a mission Friday against Tallmadge’s boys basketball team.
The junior small forward also was the best player on the court.
White flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in leading Wadsworth to a 63-42 Suburban League victory over the Blue Devils.
The home triumph kept the Grizzlies (5-3, 3-2) within one game of the conference lead, which had been shared by Tallmadge (5-4, 3-2) entering the evening.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement tonight — and I believe that we did,” White said. “We only have one goal this season, which is to win the SL title, but we’re only going to get there if we stick together.
“That’s why I always say, ‘We’re not five fingers, we’re a fist when we’re playing Wadsworth Grizzly basketball.’”
Senior center Kyle Prunty joined White in delivering a knockout blow to the Blue Devils, controlling the paint with 13 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and a pair of nifty assists.
So did junior power forward Joel Kipfer, who rung up 10 points and 10 boards as Wadsworth won the rebounding battle by a whopping 40-19 margin.
Anthony Palecek chipped in seven points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Grizzlies, while fellow senior shooting guard Barry Fernholz had seven points and two helpers.
“I was very, very happy with our efficiency on offense tonight,” Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. said. “That was one advantage of having a 13-day layoff. We were able to figure out what we were doing wrong and try to correct it.”
Defense, though, was the reason why the Grizzlies maintained a double-digit lead for most of the final three periods.
Just before the opening tip, Schmeltzer decided to assign Kipfer to Tallmadge center Andrew Francesconi, who was averaging a team-high 19.6 points. He was held to seven points and one rebound — all of them in the first half.
White staged a similar shutdown against Blue Devils power forward Colten Stricker, a 17.8-point scorer who was limited to eight points on 2-for-8 from the field.
“I put Kipfer on Francesconi because he’s so strong and physical and competitive, I had a feeling he would rise to the challenge,” Schmeltzer said. “Obviously, you saw that he did.
“And I thought Austin played one of the best all-around games of his career. His defensive effort, the way he distributed the basketball, rebounded the basketball, and made good decisions was just outstanding.”
Wadsworth’s only hiccup occurred in a four-minute span bridging the third and fourth quarters. During that spell, senior shooting guard Nate Bickar scored all 12 of his points on four 3-pointers to pull Tallmadge within 48-41.
The Blue Devils’ surge, however, proved short-lived as the Grizzlies answered with a 15-0 run that included 3-pointers by White and Palecek, along with a two-hand putback slam by Prunty.
“We definitely had to win this game because we want to get an SLT for our school,” Prunty said. “Now, we’re right where we need to be. This was a great start to 2014 — and it can only get better from here.”
|Tallmadge’s junior varsity team pitched a shutout in overtime to beat the Grizzlies 30-22. Junior center Joey Johnson led Wadsworth with four points.The squads combined to make one basket in two of the five periods.
Grizzlies public address announcer Steve Moore used a unique sales pitch to bring fans out to games over the next week, saying, “Nothing beats the cold weather like Grizzly basketball.”
Wadsworth girls basketball coach Andrew Booth relentlessly worked the gym, selling 50/50 tickets at a prolific pace.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wadsworth 63, Tallmadge 42
TALLMADGE 7 12 16 7 — 42
WADSWORTH 11 17 16 19 — 63
Tallmadge — Jarrett Ross 2-0-4, Colten Stricker 2-4-8, Andrew Francesconi 3-1-7, Nate Bickar 4-0-12, Cole Baker 0-0-0, Joseph Vassalotti 1-2-4, Justin Cambria 3-0-6, Anthony Miller 0-0-0, Niko Skeriotis 0-0-0, Jacob Whitehurst 0-1-1, Tyler Duben 0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-8-42.
Wadsworth — Austin White 5-3-15, Joel Kipfer 5-0-10, Kyle Prunty 6-1-13, Anthony Palecek 3-0-7, Patrick Long 2-0-5, Barry Fernholz 3-0-7, Tyson Heideman 1-0-2, Nick Hewitt 1-0-2, Jimmy Elchlinger 0-2-2, Ben Bingham 0-0-0, Joey Johnson 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-6-63.
3-point goals — Bickar 4, White 2, Palecek, Long, Fernholz. Rebounds — Tallmadge 19 (Baker 5), Wadsworth 40 (Prunty 11). Assists — Tallmadge 11 (Francesconi 5), Wadsworth 17 (White 9). Records — Tallmadge (5-4, 3-2), Wadsworth (5-3, 3-2). Junior varsity — Tallmadge 30, Wadsworth 22 (OT).