If the goal was to make the final regular-season home game of their high school careers a memorable one, the six Southwestern seniors who took the court on Tuesday night certainly succeeded.
"I would say that all six stepped up tonight," Southwestern coach Andrew Krenzer said. "Absolutely, those seniors did a great job."
Battling against Falconer, upperclassmen Kyle Radack, Alek Peck, Peter Trathen, Andrew Greenlee, Nick Baglia and Jake Pilling gave friends and family on hand quite a show, combining for a grand total of 63 points in a comfortable, 77-60 victory over the visiting Golden Falcons in Division 1 action.
Peter Trathen of Southwestern goes in for a layup in front of Falconer’s Nick Conti during Tuesday night’s Division 1 game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
The victory completed a season sweep for the Trojans of their longtime rivals and marked the third straight season in which Southwestern has gone unbeaten in the pairs' annual home-and-home meetings. What's more, it helped the squad improve to 8-4 in league (11-6 overall), which is good enough to earn it a six or seven seed in the upcoming Section 6 Class B-2 playoffs and one last home game in the very near future.
But while all contributed in the winning cause, it was Radack (27 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals) who came through with the night's top performance.
Filling in at the point for an injured teammate - Peck (nine points, three assists) went down with an apparent knee injury late in the second quarter and wouldn't return until the final frame - Radack followed up a 16-point output in the opening half with an 11-point third quarter. That pushed what had been a tenuous, six-point cushion at halftime, 39-33, to what was, in effect, a game-clinching 17-point lead, 58-39, by the end of the period.
"Radack did a very nice job," Krenzer said. "You know, we debated at the beginning of the year on whether we were going to put him at the point or at the guard position, and we thought we could get him the ball a little more at the guard position. And (whether that was) right or wrong, I don't know, but when Alek went down, he took a lot more on his shoulders, and I liked to see that."
The senior opened the second half with an aggressive drive through traffic and a soaring layup, but the Golden Falcons held tough, and after back-to-back buckets had cut the lead to just 41-38.
But Radack wasn't quite finished.
Halting the Falconer comeback, he kicked off - and capped - what eventually became a 17-1 run over the frame's final 5 minutes when he scored down low off an inbounds, dropped in a pair of free throws and then connected on a trey from the right wing with five seconds left in the quarter to push the lead to the aforementioned 17 points.
Crucial to Radack's success, Krenzer noted, was the Trojans renewed focus on working the ball down to their posts (Trathen, Nathan Schrope, et al.) and distributing from there.
"Without question that was the difference in the game," he said. "Our big guys were getting touches - not necessarily scoring - but we do a lot of our offense through our posts, a lot of cuts off the post, and it just opens everything up (for the guards). Probably defending a guy when he's making a cut when the post player has the ball is the hardest thing to do. We score a lot that way, and we were doing that a lot more in the second half."
While the guards were the main beneficiaries of that strategy in the third, Trathen took matters into his own hands in the fourth, hitting at one point five straight free throws on the way to seven straight points (during a 10-0 run) to extend Southwestern's lead to 70-42 with five minutes to go.
Trathen finished with 11 points. Greenlee chipped in with 11 more and hit a critical triple late in the second quarter to give the Trojans' their halftime margin while Baglia tallied three points - all of which came thanks to a nifty and-1 off a fast break reverse layup in the fourth.
For Falconer, Mitch Carter and Mike Wilcox combined for seven 3s, four of which came in the first half and helped the squad keep pace with the hosts. Wilcox would finish with a team-high 17 points and three assists while Carter would add 15 points, eight boards, two assists and two steals in the losing cause.
Conti 4 2 10, Wilcox 5 3 17, Petersen 2 0 5, Carter 6 0 15, Cameron 4 0 8, Boutelle 2 1 5, Carder 0 0 0. Totals 23 6 60.
Baglia 1 1 3, Pilling 0 0 0, Greenlee 3 4 11, Rybicki 0 1 1, Peck 3 2 9, Moran 0 0 0, Hammond 0 0 0, Trathen 4 5 13, Mogenhan 1 0 3, Johnson 1 0 2, Gustafson 0 0 0, Carlson 2 0 4, Radack 11 4 27, Schrope 2 0 4. Totals 28 17 77.
3-point goals: Wilcox 4, Petersen, Carter 3, Greenlee, Peck, Mogenhan, Radack.
Falconer17 16 6 21 - 60
Southwestern17 22 19 19 77