Battle of unbeatens is one sided
By Hub City Times staff
STRATFORD – The Stratford Tigers boys basketball team remains undefeated on the season, with a convincing 61-34 win over previously-unbeaten Auburndale on Jan. 3 at Stratford High School.
“I could not have been more proud of the kids,” Tiger Head Coach Curt Schmidt said after the game. “You dream as a coach that stuff like this happens, where you just play really well and it all comes together. We’ve been pretty disjointed so far on both ends of the floor.”
The Tigers outscored the Apaches 36-10 in the first half, in what Coach Schmidt agreed was their best half of basketball this season, “Absolutely. We contested better. Teams have been hitting ‘threes’ on us, and we really worked on getting higher and extending our defense more with one hand instead of closing out with two.
“Obviously they’re a very good transition team, so we had to make sure that they had no bust-outs. In order to do that, you’ve got to play a little more controlled on offense. You’ve got to swing the ball to get them tired. And we went after different players and different things on offense.
“Defensively, we had to make sure we covered the dump-down pass. We did a good job until the end of the game. We had to take that away, and I thought we did a really good job of taking away the ‘curb’ attacks, where a lot of teams will drive the lane lines and then kick it out for a ‘three’.
“I thought the guys just did an unbelievable job of executing what we were trying to do to try to stop what they are good at.”
The Tigers were led by 6’6″ senior Ben Barten, who scored a season-high 22 points – all of them coming in the paint. In fact, the Tigers connected on 27 of their 46 shots from in the lane. Only one shot was made from outside the paint. None came from beyond the three-point line, where the Tigers went 0-for-7.
“It was a really smart offensive game by the players, reading off each other well,” Schmidt added. “We were patient. I do have some guys that are renegades a little bit. They want to run. And that’s great, but sometimes you just have to play smart and patient, and play for the great shot. When we do that we shoot over 50 percent, and if you can shoot over 50 percent you’re going to win most of your games. We played it exactly how we wanted it. It’s just a matter of the kids buying into being patient.”
Stratford shot 71 percent from the floor inside the three-point line, and 60 percent with seven misses from beyond the arch factored in.
Chandler Schmidt added 12 points, on a night when he was 5-for-5 from the floor. Dawson Danen added 11 points. Barten completed a double-double by grabbing 13 rebounds.
The Tigers have now won four-straight games over Auburndale, and seven of the last 10. Stratford improved to 7-0 with the win, while Auburndale dropped to 9-1.
Coming off a game at Owen-Withee, the Tigers host Abbotsford Jan. 10, followed by games at Wisconsin Rapids Assumption Jan. 14 and Edgar Jan. 17. Auburndale will host Chequamegon on Jan. 10 and Wausau Newman Jan. 14.