One dose of swagger and two cups of defensive tenacity was Pittsford’s recipe for success Monday, as they brushed off a loss to Lenawee Christian last week with a 54-42 non-conference victory over Addison.
Three Wildcats hit double-figures on the night, with Garet Lee leading the way with 15 points, nine boards, four assists and two blocks, but it was Pittsford’s human-built fortress at the other end that helped them lead the entire way.
The Panthers managed just two points in the first quarter and nine the entire first half as they were plagued by turnovers forced by the Wildcat’s full-court pressure as well as an occasional miss on some gimmes.
Pittsford’s senior leader Seth Weber scored 12 points and added three assists, but he was the first to say that scoring is only part of the equation, a lesson that was well learned when his team lost in the first round of district play last year following a 20-0 campaign.
“I went up to Coach before this season and I said ‘Defense wins championships and we’ve really got to pick up our defense this year,’ and ever since we’ve been working hard on defense,” he said.
Head coach Mike Burger put his team in a number of different zone sets last season, but on Monday it was a stonewall man-to-man approach that paid dividends.
“Last year we played a lot of zone and I know everybody thought I was a zone guy, but in truth I’d rather get right after people,” he said. “I’d rather sit down and play and keep working on some of our pressure schemes. They are not what they will be later this season, but we’ll get there.”
Cody Robidoux had a team-high nine points for Addison, while Robert Simko put in eight.
They cut the margin to 12 several times in the fourth quarter, but could not find the consistency to put together a solid run.
Aside from Lee and Weber it was a little bit from a lot of different places that got the job done.
Junior Wes Smith demonstrated his confidence from the perimiter by knocking down three 3-pointers en route to 11 points, to go with six boards and Jacob Osborn had four points and seven rebounds.
No matter who it was doing the damage though, they seemed to be doing it with some pep in their step and smile on their face.
“There is a lot to be said about confidence in sports in general. If you think you’re playing well you probably are,” Burger said. “And you know, these guys have some confidence and they should have, they are good players.”
Burger said he’s happy with how his role players are progressing after two games and he gives a lot of credit to Weber for driving his bus precisely how he likes it.
“I think Seth Weber is absolutely critical to our success,” he said about his three-year starting point guard. “We have this idea that you have to have some personal responsibility and they do that and they know that Seth is an extension of me on the floor and they’ll listen to him and what he says is the law.
That’s how it is here, that’s how we run our program — our point guards are vital to our success and they have a great deal of freedom and a great deal of responsibility.”
Weber said this year’s squad doesn’t have quite the same long-range proficiency or ability to get to the lane as the 2008-09 edition did, and he’s working hard to instill confidence in some of his younger peers.
“I don’t yell at them, I mostly keep them not too nervous,” he said. “If they make a mistake I go talk to them, show them what not to do, and that pretty much works.”
Next up for Pittsford is an SCAA-opening showdown with Colon at home Thursday.