By RJ WALTERS / Daily News Sports Editor
Published in the Feb. 6, 2009 edition of the Hillsdale Daily News
Players were crying, coaches were sweating, the officials were being questioned and pile-ups were the norm.
Just another Pittsford, Waldron basketball game and as it turned out for the Wildcats, just another win in a season full of them.
Both teams tried to force things on offense all evening long, but the difference was Pittsford’s outside shooters actually made a few shots and Waldron’s just didn’t.
It was a sloppy, physical battle that Pittsford led most of the way and finished off 58-43 to improve to 12-0 overall and 9-0 in the SCAA, good enough for a three-game lead in their division.
“Ultimately what I think really happened tonight is both teams wanted to win really really bad and both teams tried to force the action. And when you force things in basketball you just make a lot of mistakes and that’s what you saw,” said Wildcat head coach Mike Burger, who saw his team turn the ball over 22 times. “There are a lot of close friends here and these guys know each other real well and that’s what makes it so hard. It’s like Michigan State, Michigan, you just throw it out, it’s really emotional and kids wanted to win real bad.”
Only five players scored for the Wildcats, but Garet Lee was a monster in the post, tallying 25 points and 18 rebounds and Clark Pelham was stroking the three-ball well, hitting four of five triples en rout to 19 points.
On the flip side, Waldron head coach Mark Long was at a loss to figure out how his team scored even 43 points in a contest the Spartans (8-5 overall, 6-3 SCAA) hung tough in only because of their feisty defense.
“I don’t know, did we ever make a basket outside of three feet? I don’t think so. Offensively we played awful,” he said. “The kids fight and play hard but offensively we were pathetic.”
The Spartans didn’t hit a 3-pointer in the contest and were just 9-of-23 from the charity stripe.
John Martin led the Spartans with 13 points, but fouled out on an offensive charge midway through the fourth quarter and he never really found a rhythm.
Long said part of the problem was his team wasn’t moving the basketball and Berger thought his Wildcats did a good job of playing help defense.
“We used a bunch of different guys and ran at (Martin) and anytime he put it on the bounce we looked to have someone slide in for good, solid help. We don’t try to block a lot of shots, we just try to slide over and play solid defense,” he said. “I thought (Cody) Krasny executed that really well and took a few charges and did a great job.”
When it came to charges or blocking fouls or hand-checks for that matter both coaches were constantly asking for explanations and fans from both teams were riding the refs hard.
Following the contest there was a consensus from the coaches that the officiating could certainly have been better, but the same calls were being made both ways.
“I thought it was poor both ways. We beat the (heck) out of each other under the basket on both sides and they didn’t call much. Both ways it was inconsistent,” Long said.
What was also inconsistent was Waldron’s ability to score the ball.
The Spartans actually took a 13-12 lead into the second quarter after Sam Lockwood hit a buzzer-beater, but a helter-skelter second quarter left them trailing 26-21.
“I told the guys we were just 3-of-10 from the foul line and played about as poorly as you can on offense in the second quarter and were still in it. Unfortunately we played hard, but not a whole lot changed,” Long said.
On the flip side, Lee was the best thing going for Pittsford.
Lee used solid footwork and played within the flow of the game to get most of his points. Nonetheless, Berger knows his star player has had better games.
“I thought tonight he forced the action at times and tried to take over and that’s not how you play well. This was a good learning experience for our kids,” he said. “ Garet is a big part of what we do, everybody tries to neutralize him and I was pretty happy how we were just able to get a win.”
Long was completely complimentary of Lee, and the entire Wildcat team.
“Pittsford is easily one of the best teams we’ve played all year. Pelham don’t miss when he’s open, Lee is an unbelievable player and they play hard and are a good team,” he said. “What makes Lee so good is he’s so unselfish. He don’t force any shots, he gets a lot of offensive boards and putbacks, whatever he is given.”
With only eight games left Pittsford faithful are starting to talk about the possibility of an undefeated season, but Berger dismissed it as being a focal point in his locker room.
“We don’t worry about that too much. It would be a great thing to do, but honestly we never thought about that at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Our only goal for the season was to get better every day in practice and work hard and I think we’ve played hard and represented ourselves with class and excellence.”