Seidman and Yeager lead Wreckers to win
Going into Tuesday night's game at Westhill, the Staples boys basketball team was in serious need of a win. Coming off a split from last week's holiday tournament, the Wreckers carried a 1-4 record and their starting point guard, junior Frankie Bergonzi was still out with a pulled hamstring and he won't be able to play for another week. Rather than throw in the towel, the Wreckers played a total game and beat the Vikings, 47-42 and raised their record to 2-4. Westhill dropped to 2-4.
"The team is learning how to win," said Devine. "We made some free throws; played good defense; and scored when we needed to."
Yeager and Seidman along with Jake Felman, who capably replaced the injured Bergonzi, took over the job of bringing the ball up court against a pressing, man-to-man Westhill defense. The Wreckers played an active, collapsing 1-3-1 defense against the Vikings who had an edge all night in rebounding over the smaller Staples lineup.
The game started off slowly for the Wreckers. Westhill's aggressive man-to-man seemed to keep Staples off a bit, but after a Seidman basket and two successive steals by Yeager, the Wreckers were up by a point with just over a minute left in the quarter. The Vikings came back but a sweet cut to the basket by Yeager for two points put Staples up 10-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Seidman opened the second quarter with a quick jumper but that was followed by a Westhill 3-pointer to tie the game at 12. Staples had a problem all night with rebounding. The Vikings took advantage of this situation and along with their fast breaks and crisp passing, moved to an 18-12 lead. Seidman missed a shot from the top of the key but Yeager hit two straight treys to tie it 18-18 with 1:17 left in the half. Westhill scored one more 3-pointer to take a 21-18 halftime lead.
The Seidman-Yeager combo was clicking to start the second half. Seidman led off with a 2-pointer off a neat feed from Yeager. Yeager then scored another three after Seidman stole the ball from a bewildered Viking, to put the Wreckers up, 23-21. Westhill came back with a three to go up 24-23. The third period was a real seesaw battle. Junior 6-5 center Andreas Bub was inserted in the game and made an immediate impact on the Wrecker rebounding and defense. Junior power forward Grant Fenton started to flex his muscle by pulling down two quick rebounds and starting breaks with good outlet passes. Bub blocked a shot and tied up his opponent. Seidman tied it at 25 and then was fouled going to the basket. He made both shots to cut the Viking lead to 28-27. After another two by Seidman, junior Dan Scanlon hit a pretty three to put the Wreckers up 33-28 with 1:20 left in the third. Not giving up, Westhill came back with two more and with 38 seconds left senior captain Brendan Rankowitz sent a message to a driving Viking with a powerful block. The rattled shooter made the first of two free throws to make it Staples 33, Westhill 32 after three quarters.
Westhill took the lead to start the fourth quarter but Yeager came back with a putback off his own shot and put it back for two and put the Wreckers up, 35-34. Fenton scored a two and then went to the line for a one-and-one, only to make the first and miss the second. With four minutes left, Staples was up by three. Staples turned up the defensive heat in this final quarter and it paid dividends. A great steal by Yeager allowed the Wreckers to call time out, up 38-35. After the break, Felman made two free throws; Yeager pulled down another rebound and the Wreckers started to spread it out with 1:30 left in the game.
Reminiscent of the North Carolina Four Corners of a few decades ago, the Wreckers successfully kept the ball away from the Vikings. The spread caused the Vikings to foul sending Yeager to the line for another one-and-one, which he made. With one minute to go, Westhill hit another 3-pointer (Staples 43, Westhill 40). A flagrant foul gave Felman two shots (he made one) and Yeager sank two more free throws to move the Wreckers up 47-40 and ice the game.
Seidman said, "We practiced hard all week and wanted to come out aggressive."
When asked how he plans his game given he's a lefty, Seidman said, "I just adjust to each situation and try to make it work."
Staples plays at Bassick tonight at 7 p.m. and it expects to have a full and healthy team on the court.