There was quite a party Friday night at the Wayland High School gym. The host Wildcats, on a festive Snowcoming evening, treated their guests badly, with the girls defeating Middleville Thornapple Kellogg 48-26 and then the boys nearly doubling up the Trojans 60-31.
Conspicuous in his absence, however, was Wayland head boys’ varsity coach Mike Hudson, who is looking after his seriously ill wife. Assistant coach Justin Aten and junior varsity mentor
Chris Jasinski filled in admirably.
The buzzword for the night was defense in both contests, as the Wildcats allowed TK very few decent shots at the hoop. They were so few that the visiting boys’ outfit failed to score in double figures in all four quarters and the Lady Trojans netted 10 in only the last period of their ballgame.
The Wildcat boys wasted no time in taking control with a 6-0 in the first two minutes and an astonishing 17-2 advantage with only a minute left in the first quarter. Senior forward Carter Nyp swished a couple of three-pointers and Ternor Hudson added another.
The defensive effort was so successful that up to that point Middleville’s only basket was the result of an errant offensive pass that resulted in a breakaway layup. TK’s Brady Zellmer finally nailed a three and the visitors managed to close the gap to 17-9 at the end of the first period.
But that’s as close as the Trojans would get for the rest of the ballgame. The smothering zone defense continued to shut down any offensive efforts by Middleville in the first several minutes Nyp hit another couple of threes to put Wayland up 25-11.
By intermission Nyp had 12 points, all on threes, senior guard Travis Cutler had nine with one three and Hudson had six on two treys. The Wildcats were enjoying a 33-15 cushion.
Aten and Jasinski spent much of the second half letting everybody play and the outcome was never in doubt. The defense held TK scoreless for the first half of the third quarter, as it just couldn’t penetrate a suffocating zone defense for decent looks at the basket. The Trojans made only one basket in the first seven minutes of third period until Zellmer found the range again from three-point land.
Hudson and Nyp both had 14 points for the evening, both with four, three-pointers. Cutler finished with 11. Junior center Jon Ainsworth was held to eight points, mostly because he got into foul trouble and sat out much of the ballgame.
Perhaps the most interesting development was a stellar performance from 6-4 junior forward George Yanakiev, who did not make a basket all night but swatted a boatload of shots for defensive blocks. His seemingly new-found talent just adds to the arsenal on the defensive side of the ball.
The Lady Wildcats gave up a three-point basket to Tess Scheidel in the first 30 seconds, but only one more basket for the rest of the opening period. Meanwhile, freshman Stephanie Ainsworth scored a couple of hoops inside and senior guard Chloe Coughlin added a three to get Wayland up and running.
Once again, it was defense that keyed the surge. On offense, it was the Lady ‘Cats Twin Towers, Ainsworth and senior Samantha Nieuwkoop, who ran the show. By the half, Ainsworth had eight points and Nieuwkoop five for 13 of the home team’s 21 points.
The Towers came up with 13 of Wayland’s 16 points in the third quarter, with Skyler Stora dropping in a three to account for the remainder. And the defense yielded just one basket from TK, with the other a steal of a telegraphed pass and layup.
Coach Wed Hudson substituted even more liberally than usual the rest of the way, so it really didn’t matter much that the Trojans finally scored in double figures in the last period.
Ainsworth led all scorers with 15 points, benefitting largely from crisp passes from her teammates. Nieuwkoop had 14 points.
Junior forward Maddie Hess, who didn’t even start the game, led Middleville with eight points.
The Wayland boys now are 4-4 overall for the season and they’ll be at home Tuesday evening to face O-K Gold Conference rival Wyoming. The girls, now 2-6, will play on the Wolves’ court next Tuesday.
COVER PHOTO: Selected Duke and Dutchess for the Wayland High School Snowcoming festivities Friday were Allyson Shafer and Travis Cutler.
(Photos courtesy of Kenny Ritz and Coleen Young)