October 23, 2014

Pinny goes to Tawas, brings home W

By Brent Baker|Special to the Independent
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TAWAS AREA — Pinconning hasn't quite wrapped up its first North East Michigan Conference title in nine seasons. But the Spartans' 56-45 victory at Tawas Area on Friday made life immeasurably difficult for the league's other boys basketball teams.

Pinny built an 18-point lead early in the third quarter and held off the Braves' attempt to rally to improve to 6-0 in NEMC play. Tawas, which could have moved to within a game of the Spartans, instead dropped into a three-way tie with John Glenn and Standish-Sterling at 3-3. And with just four league contests to go, its a lead Pinny coach Tim Floyd is very happy to have.

"We have two games left on the road, and that's always tough no matter who it is," Floyd said. "I feel a lot better with that kind of cushion. Usually it seems like we're chasing someone else at this point."

The Spartans held a narrow edge through most of the first half, closing out the second quarter with consecutive baskets by Lucas Foco and Andrew Holbrook to go up 24-17 at the break.

An 8-2 Pinny run to start the third quarter made it 32-19, and a nine-point run to end the third and start the fourth -- including a layup and 3-pointer by Holbrook -- gave the Spartans a 43-25 lead with seven minutes left.

"We didn't play good defense," said Tawas coach Drew Decker. "We didn't cover the post well; Foco hurt us. He's a big boy and he played well. And Holbrook shot the lights out.

"The kids also got upset by the officiating a bit, but that's something they have to learn to play through. I didn't have a problem with the officiating at all, but even if it had been, you have to deal with it."

The officiating actually affected Pinny's game quite a bit: Casey Pashak, whom Floyd considers his best all-around player, spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble, then picked up his fourth and fifth foul on the same play as he received a technical for his protests.

That was when Pinny still led by 18, but Tawas took advantage with a D.J. Decker free throw and a basket by Jesse Siwek.

The Braves started forcing turnovers, with Siwek scoring 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to cut into the lead. Jeff Janis' basket off a feed from Decker cut it to 49-42 with 1:20 left, but that was as close as the Braves got as Foco scored five of Pinny's final seven points in the last 1:05 to clinch it.

"When Casey plays less than a half and we still win, we've got to be pretty excited," Floyd said. "I thought James Perry handled their press well for most of the game, and having a 6-5 kid (Foco) who can handle the ball and see over the press didn't hurt, either."

Foco finished with 22 points, Holbrook added 21 and Nick Schultz had eight as Pinny improved to 10-4 overall.

Decker and Janis each added seven points for the Braves (8-4, 3-3), combining for all of the Braves' point not scored by Siwek in the fourth quarter.

"Give Pinny credit," Drew Decker said. "They played very well defensively and they got us frustrated. Our goal is to keep working to improve every game out, and tonight we didn't do that."

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