SSC looks for late-season push as players begin to get healthy
WHITTEMORE — Standish-Sterling's boys’ basketball team is beginning to get healthy. And while the Panthers don't yet resemble the team they expected to be when the season started, at least some of the faces are moving back into place in time for the stretch run.
The Panthers' 54-42 victory at Whittemore-Prescott on Monday was significant not so much for the win as working players back into the lineup that had missed most or all of the season.
Austin Collier saw his first action of the year after a football injury sidelined him for the first 15 games; Trevor Trombley saw his second game action after returning from a hernia that originally looked as if it would sideline him for the year; and Ryan Pickvet, who missed the first half of the season, is seeing more and more playing time.
SSC is still missing Mitchell McFarland, out after knee surgery, but the Panthers' outlook is better than it was a few weeks ago.
"We're hoping for a dash to the finish," said SSC coach Tom Murray. "It's been a freakish year, and it's not the fault of anyone. We've made the best of it and somehow we're 10-6.
"We need to get better, though, and tomorrow against Ogemaw will be a pretty good barometer of where we're at."
The Cardinals, who have had a large turnover in their own lineup and had three players in their regular rotation that were playing JV ball less than two weeks ago, didn't go down easily.
Despite SSC's ability to get the ball inside to Cole Walderzak, who finished with 23 points, and W-P leading scorer Billy Raushi going scoreless in the first half due to foul trouble, the two squads were tied at 17-17 with minutes to go before the half.
Collier, clearly rusty and not having practiced with the team, made his entrance at that juncture and drained SSC's only 3-pointer of the night and 3-of-4 free throws to give SSC a 23-18 lead at the half.
"He's not even really practiced yet, but the doctor cleared him to play," Murray said. "He's the best defender I've coached, and that's something we can count on from him when we put him in there. The scoring was kind of a bonus."
The Panthers started the second half with three consecutive lobs into Walderzak — all of which he converted — and a 29-18 lead.
"I actually thought we did a decent job on Cole when we were able to front and back him," said W-P coach Bob Leslie. "But as soon as someone left him we had some trouble.
"I like the mentality of this team right now. We can pressure more on defense without immediately getting in foul trouble and the kids play hard. If we play like this, I feel like we have a legitimate shot to do well at districts."
Mark Lorence added 11 points, Trevor Karbowski scored 10 and Collier finished with eight as SSC improved to 10-6 (4-4 NEMC).
Raushi had 11 for W-P (2-15, 0-9), with Jayme Humprhey scoring seven.