Witt has 33 points, 24 boards as E-TC defeats Wakefield
Ewen-Trout Creek clinched the Porcupine Mountain Division title with a convincing 67-46 win Tuesday night over a team it might see again next week, Wakefield-Marenisco.
E-TC’s Jake Witt was unstoppable, scoring 33 points and grabbing 24 rebounds, while the Cardinals faced the reality of being without Jacob Suzik (elbow), going into halftime down 28-9.
A big crowd came to watch a battle of the two top teams in the division — No. 2 E-TC (18-1) and W-M (15-4) — and of course to see Witt, who didn’t disappoint.
As both teams struggled to shoot from the outside in the first half, Witt had 20 points with a dominating performance inside.
“I thought they did a nice job of guarding our guards, but that left him a lot of times one-on-one or the double was late off of the guards and he was able to go to work in that first half,” E-TC coach Brad Besonen said.
Nothing went the home team’s way before halftime.
“The team morale was a little down because (Suzik) wasn’t there,” W-M coach Terry Fetters said. “And then we come out struggling shooting and our offense the first half made things worse. But I got to give kids credit; they didn’t give up, they fought right to the end.”
The Cardinals came out of the halftime break on fire, making their first three attempts from 3, eventually draining six for the quarter.
But that was all of their points in the third and E-TC still expanded its lead to 52-37.
That’s the challenge W-M faced. The 3 wasn’t reliable as E-TC played great perimeter defense in the first half — W-M was 0 of 12 from 3 — and with Witt protecting the rim, the Cardinals were missing Suzik’s mid-range shot, something he got to fall in the first, much closer meeting with E-TC in December.
“When you play Ewen, you can’t really attack the basket because when you get there, there’s nowhere to go,” Fetters said. “You have to pull up and take that mid-range shot.”
In all, the Cardinals were 9 of 36 from behind the arc. Cole Borseth and Tommy Cousineau were the primary perimeter defenders with Nordine and Witt helping.
“I didn’t think we’d have to defend 36 3s,” Besonen said. “I knew they’d shoot a lot of them, but 36 was an awful lot. First half, I thought we did a fantastic job of making their looks difficult. I thought they took a lot of bad 3s early on, which put them in that big hole. We also rebounded those quite well. They were one-shot possessions a lot of them.”
Without Suzik, E-TC could focus its defense on Mason Saubert and Bailey Ribich, who went a combined 6 of 37 from the field. Saubert led W-M with 18 points and Brett Heil had 11. Saubert had a team-high four 3s; Tyler Merconti three and Brett Heil two.
Nordine scored 16 points for the Panthers with 12 in the second half as W-M increased its attention on Witt after his strong first half.
“We tried to make a little run, but we couldn’t stop Jake. They hit some 3s in that second half also,” Fetters said. “We tried to collapse on Jake and they’d kick it out. Like every other coach says, pick your poison.”
If the teams meet again, it will be in next Friday’s district final at Ewen. W-M is hoping to have Suzik back by then. He has a broken arm, but he goes to the doctor again on Monday for a final verdict.
“(The doctor’s) going to decide if he can play next week or not,” Fetters said. “He may be back. It’s just a fracture. He’s got it in a cast right now.”
W-M (15-4, 9-4) goes to Watersmeet Thursday, while E-TC (18-1, 12-1) hosts Bessemer to complete the regular season.
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E-TC 10 28 24 15 — 67
W-M 2 7 18 19 — 46
E-TC – Tommy Cousineau 2, Eli Nordine 16, Cole Borseth 3, Gentry Brand 5, Jaden Borseth 8, Jake Witt 33. FTs: 10-14. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Nordine 3, J. Borseth 2, Brand 1.
W-M – Mason Saubert 18, Bailey Ribich 1, Austin Vizina 5, Tyler Merconti 9, Brett Heil 11, Erik Hakamaki 2. FTs: 7-13. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: Hakamaki. 3-pointers: Saubert 4, Merconti 3, Heil 2.