The Pine River-Backus boys’ basketball team was soundly defeated by the host Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves 68-36 on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The Wolves were able to start the game on a hot streak, with a 14-2 run that would put the Tigers in a deficit that they would be unable to overcome. W-H-A did the bulk of their scoring on inside shots, for which the Tigers did not have an answer. Despite remaining competitive the rest of the first half, the game would become a blow-out during the second half.
Center Anthony Fisher grabbed an offensive rebound, and scored his first basket of the game. It would prove to foreshadow what was to come for the visiting Tigers. PR-B would not be able to come up with an answer for the big-man inside for the Wolves. He helped on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, often coming up with a big rebound for W-H-A. Fisher would go on to lead the Wolves with a game-high 21 points, including 10 in the first half.
The Tigers were able to answer back on their first possession of the game, as senior guard Beau Howard hit a long 18 foot-jumper to tie it 2-2. Unfortunately, it would be the last time that PR-B had a share of the lead. W-H-A was able to score, once again under the rim off a rebound that was intended as a pass. The Wolves followed up with a 3-pointer, a baseline drive for a basket, and a free throw by Fisher for a 10-2 lead.
The Wolves showed their defensive presence with a steal, which led to a fast break basket and two more points for Fisher inside. W-H-A was able to increase their lead to 14-2 before the Tigers answered back on a long-range shot by Travon Pederson for three points.
The Wolves scored another basket and two more points on a couple of successful free throws, to take an 18-5 lead before the midway point in the first half. The Tigers were able to play even basketball from this point until halftime, but they were unable to chip away at the double-digit deficit.
Pine River-Backus got the bulk of their scoring from Howard and Pederson, who would score 20 of the Tigers 25 first half points. The Tigers went into the locker room at half time, trailing 25-38.
Despite the double-digit deficit going into the second half, the Tigers were optimistic to be within a manageable margin. However, the Wolves would begin the second half with a 23-4 run to widen the margin immensely. Fisher started the second half for Walker the same way he started the game, pulling down an offensive rebound and putting it back up for an easy basket. During the second half run, Fisher would go on to wreak havoc on the offensive boards, twice pulling down the rebound after a teammate missed a free throw, leading to points on both occasions.
W-H-A almost exclusively scored their points inside the paint, during the second half. The Wolves often drove inside the lane, and when the defense collapsed on the ball handler, they would unselfishly make the pass to an open teammate under the basket for easy points.
The second half wasn’t only about scoring for W-H-A. They showed a ferocious defense, making the Tigers’ struggles all the more difficult. Twice they were able to stifle a fast break off of a steal by the visiting team, and instead of sure points for the PR-B, they were able to get the ball back on offense. They contested nearly every shot by the Tigers, never giving them the chance to get momentum on a basket or two.
When it was all said and done, the Wolves wore down PR-B, outscoring the visiting team by a 30-11 margin in the second half.
Scoring Summary: Howard had a team-high 17 points. Pederson had a good night at the free throw line, going four for four, which helped him put up 12 points for Pine River. Cody Mager added three points on a successful long-range shot. Zach Struss and Gabe Franslo each contributed two points to their team’s total. W-H-A was led by Fisher’s 21 points. Chris Duff added 20 points. Caleb Ginos had nine points.