SAEGERTOWN — Down a handful of players for Friday night’s Region 2 showdown in Saegertown, it would have been easy for the Maplewood Tigers boys basketball team to let the Panthers have an easy go of their senior night.
But, that wasn’t the case.
Although the score ended up being 69-47 in favor of the Panthers, the visiting Tigers sure gave them a scare. It was a single-digit affair in the third quarter before the Panthers just had too much fire power for the Tigers to slow down.
Four Saegertown players finished in double figures, as Isaac Johnson led the way with a game-high 19 points. Jaden Wilkins contributed a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds, while seniors Logan Ingram and Max Fuller totaled 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Brandon Snell hit four triples en route to leading the Tigers with 18 points, while Kaleb Donor added a career-high 12 points. Isaac Williams scored the first five points of his varsity career, and Logan Kennedy also chipped in five.
Johnson and Wilkins had their way for the Panthers in the first quarter. With no real size challenge from the Tigers, Wilkins dominated inside the post with five rebounds and seven points. Johnson, who ran the point, made a handful of lay-ups in the paint, and racked up eight first-period points.
“Jaden and Isaac have made leaps and bounds this year,” Maplewood coach Shawn Rhoades said. “We were hoping to be physical on them and maybe get some fouls called on them, but that didn’t happen.”
Meanwhile, Maplewood had trouble keeping up offensively during the opening minutes of the frame. After Snell converted a lay-up in the Tigers’ first possession, the Panther press slowed them down. Saegertown went on a 13-0 run over the next four-plus minutes.
Undersized and undermanned, it didn’t seem to matter much for the Tigers in the second quarter. Trailing 20-8 heading into the stanza, Maplewood took advantage of Wilkins and Johnson initially resting on the bench for the Panthers.
Maplewood opened the frame with a 7-0 run to close the gap to 20-15. That sent Wilkins and Johnson back to the scorer’s table to try to check back in and stop the Panther bleeding. They did initially, as Saegertown worked its advantage back up to 31-19. However, Maplewood closed the half with a pair of 3-pointers from Snell to make it a six-point game at the break, 31-25.
“Their trap sped us up and got us out of sorts (in the first quarter),” Rhoades said. “We had guys in places they’re not normally in, so it took a while to calm down. We started to move the ball more, getting open shots instead of trying to force things, and also got stops at the other end.”
Saegertown’s offense, however, could not be shut down in the second half. While Maplewood went cold for most of the third quarter, Saegertown pushed their opponents to the brink with 38 second-half points. A Johnson lay-up midway through the third put the Panthers up by double digits and they never let that lead slip again.
Maplewood had its best offensive night of the season, posting a season-high 47 points. It unfortunately happened to occur at the same time they surrendered a season-high 69 points at the other end of the floor. They did limit Saegertown’s leading scorer, Brady Greco, to just five points, but the Panthers just had too many weapons to lock down.
“We weren’t going to be able to take everyone away,” Rhoades said. “We thought it was our best bet taking out Brady. The two shots he made were tough shots, and we had Elliott Beuchat on him the majority of game. Elliott gave a great effort and wasn’t backing down from anything.”
Despite the loss, Rhoades it taking a lot of positives from this contest and hopes that the experience can be used down the road when the Tigers have their full lineup back.
“This kind of experience and atmosphere is invaluable and a good one to build off of,” Rhodaes said. “We got some big minutes from Williams and Beuchat. The kids fought hard and I was definitely pleased with the effort.”
Maplewood will next host Youngsville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. looking to break its six-game losing streak. The Tigers beat the Eagles by two points in their season-opener.
Saegertown 69, Maplewood 47
MAPLEWOOD (1-6 OVERALL, 1-3 REGION 2)
FGM-FGA FT-FTA PTS: Donor 5-10 0-0 12, Kennedy 2-7 0-0 5, Burns 1-4 0-0 2, Holcomb 1-4 0-0 3, Snell 6-13 3-5 18, Doolittle 1-2 0-0 2, Williams 2-2 1-2 5, Beuchat 0-2 0-0 0, Woge 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-44 4-7 47.
FGM-FGA FT-FTA PTS: Johnson 7-13 5-5 19, Greco 2-6 0-0 5, Fuller 5-12 0-0 11, Ingram 5-8 0-1 13, Wilkins 3-8 7-11 13, Balog 2-6 0-0 4, Shaffer 1-7 0-0 2, Jones 1-1 0-0 2, Yoder 0-1 0-0 0, Hernandez 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 26-64 12-17 69.
Score by Quarters
Maplewood 8 17 7 15 — 47
Saegertown 20 11 17 21 — 69
3-point goals — Maplewood 7-21 (Snell 3-7, Donor 2-4, Holcomb 1-4, Kennedy 1-4, Beuchat 0-1, Burns 0-1), Saegertown 5-17 (Ingram 3-6, Fuller 1-5, Greco 1-3, Balog 0-2, Shaffer 0-1). Rebounds — Maplewood 18 (Burns 5), Saegertown 36 (Wilkins 15). Turnovers — Maplewood 22, Saegertown 12.