Corey Wefing turned a few heads on Friday night; chief among them was Tom Nelson.
"He surprised me," the Frewsburg head coach said. "We don't get to see (Maple Grove) that much, and I knew he was quick and aggressive defensively, but he hit some really tough shots tonight."
Overcoming uncharacteristically quiet nights from Austin Goerke and Will Soffel, Wefing, along with Graham Soffel and the steady Aaron Germain, lifted No. 2 Maple Grove to a 69-51 victory over the 10th-seeded Bears (8-12) in a hard-fought Section 6 Class C-2 boys quarterfinal game.
Maple Grove’s Graham Soffel pulls down a rebound during Friday night’s Section 6 Class C-2 quarterfinal game against Frewsburg. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"Honestly, if you'd have told me that we'd win a playoff game with Austin scoring four points and Will scoring two, I'd have never believed you," Maple Grove coach Curt Fischer said. "But that's what is special about this team. There are so many that can step up."
Wefing poured in a game-high 21 points to go along with two rebounds and two steals; Graham Soffel connected for 16 points, was a perfect 10 of 10 from the foul line, and hauled in seven boards and five steals; and Germain rounded out the Red Dragons (18-1) who reached double-figures with 18 points, five rebounds and three steals.
The victory propels Maple Grove into a semifinal battle with Portville at Jamestown Community College on Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.
Though the final margin and a number of other statistics were rather lopsided in Maple Grove's favor by game's end - the Red Dragons outrebounded their opponents, 33-13, and committed just four turnovers compared to Frewsburg's 17 - the Bears refused to fade.
It wasn't until Wefing came through with a pair of 3s in traffic on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter, and then Graham Soffel following with four straight free throws, that Maple Grove finally clinched the victory.
"Those are the shots were you go, 'No!, No!, Yes!,'" Fischer said of Wefing's clutch 3-pointers. "He's gotten into the habit of doing that because it always seems to work for him."
Until that point, though, the final result remained much in doubt.
Mainly by virtue of the 3-pointer - Alex Elderkin (21 points, two blocks) connected on 5 of 10 during the contest and the Bears had nearly as many treys (8) as two-point baskets (9) - Frewsburg managed to keep its deficit within single digits for most of the contest.
"They've got some 3-shooters that's for sure," Fischer said. "They're so much better than their record and have a lot more weapons that it appears."
But each time the visitors threatened to take the lead, Wefing, Graham Soffel and Germain, along with a few others at opportune moments, pushed the Red Dragons ahead once more.
Up by just one, 22-21, with a minute remaining in the second quarter, Graham Soffel drove the baseline on back-to-back possessions and was fouled. At the line he hit all four of his free throws, expanding the lead to five, and then Wefing capped the 7-0 run with his the second triple of the night with 12 seconds to go in the half to make the advantage eight, 29-21.
Including the late run, Graham Soffel and Wefing combined for 13 of the Red Dragons' 18 total points in the second frame.
"Graham, again, had an unbelievable ballgame," Fischer said. "And Wefing was just - defensively and offensively - phenomenal."
In the third, meanwhile, when Frewsburg had pulled to within three, 32-29, Maple Grove answered with another miniature spree, outscoring Frewsburg 8-1 over the last minute of the quarter to balloon the advantage to a more comfortable 11 points, 46-35.
Graham Soffel hit two more free throws during the run while Jeff Tampe and Colin Green bookended it with a pair of buckets down low.
"Tampe was outstanding as a spark plug for us," Fischer said, "and Green is extremely smart with the ball. The 'Green Machine,' as we like to call him, was a great role player for us tonight."
Frewsburg, thanks to Wefing's aforementioned heroics beyond the arc, wouldn't get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Now comes a battle with No. 3 Portville, a group that has lost just two games this season - both to Silver Creek.
"We've got a whole new monster to deal with now," Fischer said. "But I don't think they go as deep as we do, so maybe we'll be able to wear them down a little."
Smith 2 0 4, Munella 1 1 4, Nelson 4 2 11, B. Johnson 1 2 5, Elderkin 7 2 21, Adelgren 1 0 2, D. Johnson 1 2 4, Caldwell 0 0 0. Totals 17 9 51.
MAPLE GROVE (69)
Tampe 1 0 2, Green 2 0 4, Kistner 1 0 2, W. Soffel 1 0 2, G. Soffel 3 10 16, Wefing 8 1 21, Germain 6 5 18, Goerke 2 0 4, Beaton 0 0 0, Stack 0 0 0. Totals 24 16 69.
3-point goals: Munella, Nelson, B. Johnson, Elderkin 5, Wefing 4, Germian.
Frewsburg11 10 14 16 - 51
Maple Grove11 18 17 23 - 69