Brian Rodriguez

Maplewood’s Brian Rodriguez (34) drives to the basket against Wilmington’s Tage Kelliher (left) and Robert Pontius (15).

WILMINGTON — On a historical night for Wilmington High School, the Greyhounds ended the Maplewood Tigers boys basketball season with an 80-38 victory in the first round of the District 10 Class 2A playoffs, Friday.

Prior to the start of the game, it was announced that Friday was the first time in school history that Wilmington played a home game during the District 10 playoffs. The reigning District 10 champions didn’t disappoint.

Maplewood (5-16 overall, 5-9 Region 3) had no answer for Wilmington’s (12-11 overall, 8-6 Region 2) ability to score inside the paint. In the first contest between the two schools since the 1996-97 campaign, the Greyhounds moved the ball around the floor with ease and grace, combining its strong game from the post with seven timely 3-point shots to put up a season-high 80 points.

Jacob Yohman scored a season-high 26 points, converting 12 shots from short range to lead the Greyhounds. Robert Pontius and Daniel Hanssen also scored double figures with 15 and 11 points respectively. Although Maplewood was able to keep Hanssen — who was the Greyhounds’ leading scorer during the regular season — below his season average, other members of the team stepped up.

“They are a very well-coached team and are extremely athletic,” Maplewood coach Dave Gjovik said. “They shoot the ball well and they created matchup problems for us at several positions. We tried to get their bigs off of the block, but it wasn’t easy. They are big, strong kids.”

Before the contest even began, Maplewood was at a disadvantage. The Tigers’ leading scorer and rebounder from the regular season, senior Raheem Young, was unavailable to play due to personal reasons. Senior Josh Krepps stepped in to handle the point in Young’s absence. Down arguably its best player, Maplewood didn’t show any sign of fear or timidness. 

“Being down your leading scorer and rebounder is hard to overcome,” Gjovik said. “Josh did a nice job for us. We didn’t have a lot of turnovers, which is a tribute to Josh being a [smart] guy.”

Both teams started the contest hot from the floor as neither club missed a field goal during the first two and a half minutes of play as Wilmington led, 7-5. 

Following the first Tigers’ miss of the game, Wilmington turned on the jets, extending its lead to 13-7 before missing its first shot at the 4:35 mark.

The Tigers hit four 3-pointers during the quarter, two apiece from Kyle Mehok and Andy Wooley, to stay within reach of the Greyhounds. However, Wilmington was able to force seven first-quarter Maplewood turnovers, which allowed the Greyhounds to score easy transition buckets, and build a 29-16 lead heading into the second frame — a lead that would not fall.

“We told the boys to come down and have fun,” Gjovik said. “There was nothing to lose. We hit some shots early, but they kept scoring and that was a problem for us.”

Maplewood was only able to put five additional points on the board before the half, while Wilmington poured it on with a 20-point second quarter. With the victory, the Greyhounds advance to the semifinals, where they will face Eisenhower on Friday, at a site and time to be announced.

“[Wilmington] is coming off of a state championship football season and they didn’t really hit their stride until halfway through the season,” Gjovik said. “They’re a dangerous team, and it was a tough contest.”

Mehok finished with a team-high 17 points, while Wooley chipped in nine. 

“Kyle and Andy were reliable [all season],” Gjovik said. “We could count on them as leaders. Kyle is a leader by example, while Andy is more vocal. They both come to practice every day and work hard. They are good teammates and good guys to be around. We want gentlemen like that at Maplewood High School.”

Despite ending its season with an early from the playoffs, Maplewood is optimistic about the future of the program. The Tigers will lose eight seniors to graduation, but Gjovik is already looking forward to getting back to work with the returning group of players.

“I’m proud of the guys, and I enjoyed working with them,” Gjovik said. “I’m looking forward to working with the younger guys next year. They are a nice group, and they are ready to work.”

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