By Matt Lofgren | Staff Writer
Mogadore finished strong Friday night to bounce back from a self-described dismal performance on Tuesday and grab a 57-49 win over Southeast.
After two hard practices, Wildcats head coach Russ Swartz had his team prepared for the Pirates on both ends of the floor.
"We did a nice job bouncing back from Tuesday's performance," Swartz said. "We played a little more in spurts like we're capable of. I worked them pretty hard the last two days."
Both teams played fairly even for the first 27 minutes of the game, with Mogadore holding the lead for most of that time. Then, with five minutes left in the game and leading 41-39, the Wildcats clamped down defensively and hit some big shots.
Over the final five minutes, Mogadore (3-1, 3-0 PTC County Division) went on a 16-10 run to close out the game. Senior Hunter Van Camp was crucial in those final minutes as he added two baskets and grabbed three big rebounds.
"We played defense the whole time, that's the biggest thing," Van Camp said. "I thought we played all right and came out with the 'W.' I'm pretty proud."
Van Camp said the Wildcats were focused on correcting mistakes from Tuesday's loss to Springfield. Calling the game one of the worst he has played, practice was key to getting the team back on track.
"(Swartz) ringed us in practice," Van Camp said. "We had the worst game I've played, as a team, in probably four years, and to bounce back like this was awesome."
While Mogadore was clicking a bit more fluently than Southeast (4-3, 3-1), Pirates coach Matthew Dillon said his team played well in spurts and needs to get into a better rhythm.
"We put together two good runs where we got within a bucket, and we actually took the lead in the first half. Then we made another good run in the second (half)," Dillon said. "Then we let them go on an 8-0 run. Our problem is consistency. We play good in spurts, but you cannot beat a good team like Mogadore playing in spurts."
Van Camp believed his team wasn't intense enough with the ball and the lead, which allowed Southeast to keep coming back. But in those final five minutes, Van Camp called on his team for a gut-check, and the Wildcats responded with a big-time effort.
"I told them that we need to keep up the intensity because every time we got a bit of a lead, we started sagging off," Van Camp said. "I said we can't let them get back into the game, we don't want that. There's a few minutes to go, they were down nine and we let them come back and get down just four. That can't happen, and as the year goes on we'll tighten it up and pick it up from there."
Southeast ran out of magic at the end as Mogadore increased the tempo and forced five turnovers in the final five minutes of play. The Wildcats had a nose for the ball late in the game and snatched away any second-chance opportunities the Pirates might have had.
"We did a pretty good job of rebounding the ball, and then we did get some transition baskets because of getting stops on the first shot," Swartz said. "We just rebounded the ball and got enough stops when we had to, because they can shoot."