Weekly Feature



2018-01-11 / Sports

Hot shooting propels Chief cagers past Springville

by JASON NADOLINSKI
Reporter

Iroquois’ boys basketball team moved above the .500 mark in ECIC III play Thursday behind a strong second half effort that propelled the Chiefs to a 77-49 triumph over Springville.

Iroquois had a strong night shooting the ball against Springville, connecting on 51.7 percent of its overall field goal attempts for the game. Though the Chiefs made just a third of their 18 attempts from long range, coach Todd Kleitz was still pleased overall with how efficient Iroquois was at the offensive end of the floor.

“Springville was our highest second-half scoring output of the season, and most of it came off our defense,” Kleitz said. “We sunk in defensively, turned them over a bunch of times and got some easy baskets in transition. And part of that came from the defensive adjustments that we made in the second half. They really made a difference after we had played a pretty close and pretty even first half with them.”

The Chiefs, who used a 26-12 run over the course of the third quarter to break open what had been just a five-point game at the half, finished the contest with 24 steals as a team. The ensuing extra offensive possessions helped fuel Iroquois’ 49-26 advantage throughout the entire second half.

“It was kind of a tale of two halves,” Kleitz said. “We’ve been trying to take care of the ball, which we did a nice job of against Springville, but we also helped ourselves out getting all those extra chances by stealing it on defense. If we can continue to limit teams to 14 or fewer points per quarter and also shoot the ball as well as we did, we’ll be in every game.”

Tyler Tait, who was 5-of-8 from the three-point line, led the way for Iroquois with 23 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Sean Holleig chipped in with 16 points, nine steals and six assists, while Andrew Hetzendorfer contributed 11 points, four rebounds and a block. Matt Malta added 10 points and four rebounds for the victors.

“Sean played a really good game for us,” Kleitz said. “It was honestly the breakout game where he scored at the rate he’s capable of producing, and he had a lot of tip deflections that led to steals and layups in transition thanks to his active hands at the top of our defensive pressure. Matt played probably his best game of the season too, and Tyler was pretty potent for us offensively, especially in the second half.”

Things didn’t go nearly as well for Iroquois Saturday when it finally faced Orchard Park in the weather-postponed championship game of the annual Bank of Holland Southtowns Classic, as the Quakers – who won, 54-47 – methodically built up a seven point lead over the middle two quarters of the game that would serve as the final margin of victory.

Despite shooting themselves in the foot with 10 turnovers and a few missed layups, the Chiefs managed to play the Quakers to a 9-9 tie in the opening stanza. The Quakers’ pressure defense continued to give Iroquois fits, as the Chiefs had to play a large portion of the game with Tait chained to the bench in foul trouble.

“Having our best player off the floor for most of the game definitely didn’t help us, which was too bad because this certainly felt like a game we could’ve won just by making a couple of adjustments,” Kleitz said. “I thought we were pretty good as a group defensively and that we were in the game with an opportunity to win right down the stretch, but all of our turnovers came back to bite us. A lot of them were above the three-point line, so they wound up leading to uncontested layups.

“If we make a few of our shots earlier in the game, we’re not fouling them late and giving them a few extra points without us having to play defense.”

Holleig (3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists) was Iroquois’ only scorer in double figures, with 12. Josh Kowalski chipped in with seven points, six rebounds and three steals, while both Malta (3 rebounds, 2 assists) and Calvin Gawlik (2 rebounds) scored six points each. Charlie Ottomano contributed five points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals for Iroquois.

The Chiefs (4-6, 2-1 league) return to action Friday by facing Pioneer and then kick off next week’s play by facing Maryvale on Wednesday.

“We’re just going to focus on taking care of the ball and valuing every possession,” Kleitz said. “An early turnover might not seem like a big deal, but when it’s a oneor two-possession game late it makes you wonder how big that early possession you missed on could have been. We’ve got to be a better shooting team too; we’ve got to score more points than the high 40s to be competitive against some of our upcoming opponents for sure.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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