Boys basketball: Revved-up Alter advances past Ponitz

Alter’s Brady Uhl shoots in the lane during the first half of Tuesday night’s Division II tournament game against Ponitz at Springfield High School. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Alter’s Brady Uhl shoots in the lane during the first half of Tuesday night’s Division II tournament game against Ponitz at Springfield High School. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Alter knew it was in for a fast-paced game with a young Ponitz team in a Division II second-round tournament game Tuesday night at Springfield High School.

Playing fast enough to score 90 points is out of Knights’ coach Eric Coulter’s comfort zone. He’d rather see eight or 10 passes before taking a shot. But his team showed it can play that style as well as the deliberate, grind-it-out style they’re used to in the GCL.

And the Knights were in a shooting zone. Fast-break layups or kick outs for 3-pointers kept the scorekeeper busier than usual as the Knights closed with a 35-15 run to defeat Ponitz 91-64.

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“When they’re giving you fast breaks and they’re selling out, it’s hard not to take layups and opportunities when you can score,” Coulter said. “I want to score if we can, and then if we can’t bring it out and show some patience. But tonight patience was a hard thing to come by.”

The second-seeded Knights (20-4) will play a more familiar style against No. 4 Kenton Ridge (18-6) at 7 p.m. Friday at Springfield with a berth in the district final at stake. The Cougars advanced with a 59-43 victory over Bellbrook.

“They’re a very good team,” Coulter said. “It’s a good matchup for them, it’s a good matchup for us. They’re more of a GCL-style team. Their personnel is really good.”

Conor Stolly led the Knights with 27 points and Jack Smith had 20. Brady Uhl scored 15 and surpassed 1,000 career points.

Despite the final score, Ponitz (10-14) cut Alter’s lead to 51-46 on freshman guard Dayjuan Anderson’s long 3-pointer. He hit another with 3:16 left to make it 56-49. Coulter called time out and changed his defense to deal with Anderson (19 points, five 3-pointers) and his hot-shooting backcourt mates Peyton Lyons and Devon Perdue.

“My fear was that they were going to wear us down,” Coulter said. “When their guards started hitting we went triangle-and-two just to make them work.”

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Second-year Ponitz coach Allen Spears said his team had to play nearly perfect to pull off the upset.

“Absolutely we gave them our best shot,” he said. “That’s a good basketball team, and they were even better than when we watched them on tape. And they shot the heck out of the ball.”

Spears was not surprised with the efficiency in which Alter played in transition.

“They have a way of neutralizing the intensity that we play with on defense with the pass,” he said. “They understand to pass the basketball to advance it up instead of trying to handle it and over dribble it. So we didn’t create the turnovers that we had hoped to.”

Spears will have 11 of his 14 players back next year, including Anderson, Lyons and Delvonte Adams.

“I saw some things in our guys that I’m excited about,” Spears said. “Particularly our freshman (Anderson), who looked like one of the best players on the court. That’s encouraging.”

Kenton Ridge advanced with a patient offense against a sagging Bellbrook defense designed to leave point guard Malcolm McKay open and to sag on 6-foot-7 Tyler Eberhart (19 points) and 6-8 Collin Perkins (17 points).

“I just had to play my game,” McKay said. “It’s not all about shooting.”

And McKay did something Bellbrook didn’t expect. He scored 16 points (10 more than his average), found ways to penetrate the defense for assists and was the designated free-throw shooter down the stretch.

Bellbrook’s strategy was effective until the Cougars outscored the Eagles 10-6 in the third quarter to build a seven-point lead. Late in the third McKay decided to prove the Eagles had made a mistake. He made a 3-pointer from the left wing for only his fourth of the season. That put the Cougars up 35-26 and they controlled the game from there.

“I was just believing,” McKay said. “I know I can hit those shots any time, it just depends on if I’m feeling it or not. And I was feeling it.”

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