ANSONIA – In the Cross County Conference opener for both schools, the Mississinawa Valley Blackhawks used their experience and athleticism to defeat the host Ansonia Tigers 56-29 Friday night.
Coach Tim Barga’s Blackhawks used their veteran experience and intensity of starting three seniors and one junior and the humbling experience of an opening game defeat.
“We’ve talked about that before the game started,” Barga said. “We weren’t intense at all the first game. They’ve got to get pumped up and excited. We were more excited tonight. We went into the first game and thought we had it won. We didn’t think we had this one won. We can’t go into any game this year thinking we’ve got it won. We’re not that good.”
The Tigers jumped to a 5-0 early in the first quarter thanks to a three ball by Lane Clark and a field goal by the team’s leading scorer, senior Dane Wentworth, who would finish with 16 points.
Mississinawa Valley soon found the range and two free throws by junior Trent Perkins with 3:32 remaining gave the Blackhawks a 6-5 lead that they would never relinquish.
Mississinawa used a pressurized defense and commanded the offensive backboard to begin to take control of the game. The Blackhawks finished the quarter on a 13-4 run that gave them an 18-9 lead at the break.
“We did a much better job in the second half,” Ansonia coach Chad Cramer said about his team’s rebounding. “We couldn’t get much worse than in the first half. The shooter shot it. We didn’t box him out. He went and got it. We weren’t going to out-jump those guys. They were a more athletic team than we are.”
The Blackhawks continued to stretch their lead into the second quarter by causing turnovers and getting second chance points. The margin grew to 30-11 midway through the period before the Tigers unleashed a 3-pointer barrage, one by Devyn Sink and two by Wentworth, to cut the lead to 34-20 at the half.
The intermission break was just what Ansonia needed. The Tigers took control of the beginning of the third quarter. They took over the defensive backboard, cut down on the turnovers and continued their improved shooting.
Freshman Hunter Muir scored the first three points and Wentworth added two triples to bring the Tigers to within eight, 37-29 with 4:12 remaining in the period. However, those would be the last points Ansonia would score on the night.
After a timeout the Blackhawks regrouped and got back to their old ways of defense, offensive rebounding and running their offense to get good looks around the basket. The Tigers just went ice cold from the field. Mississinawa led 43-29 after three periods.
The Blackhawks placed three players in double figures led by game-high scorer, senior Colyn Nelson’s 21.
“We know we have three tough games coming up and then the Franklin Monroe tournament, which doesn’t get any easier,” Barga said. “Our schedule ’til the first of the year is very tough. We have to play solid basketball until the first of the year. We’ve got to settle ourselves down and make teams play our game.”
Coach Cramer said, “It’s an easy thing to say we’re going to get better as the season goes on. Keep the attitude going in the right direction. If we lose some games, we can’t let that bother us. We’ve just got to keep working. Enjoy the process of getting better.”
The Blackhawks even their record at 1-1 and are 1-0 in the Cross County Conference. The Tigers fall to 0-2 on the young season and 0-1 in the CCC.
Ansonia won the junior varsity game 33-30.
MV 18 16 9 13 56
ANS 9 11 9 0 29
Bowman 11, Perkins 10, Nelson 21, Rinderle 4, Johns 2, Geesy 8.
Sink 3, Muir 5, Alexander 2, Wentworth 16, Clark 3.
MV 2 (Perkins 2); Ans 6 (Wentworth 4, Sink 1, Clark 1).