The Wrightstown Tigers were looking for a game to redeem themselves after less than stellar performance against Olympian Conference foe Valders last week.
The Tigers, taking part in the two day Sun Drop Classic Tournament on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, used a stingy defense to earn a hard fought 45-38 victory over the tournament host, the Shawano Hawks.
“I thought our kids came out and for 32 minutes played with a lot of energy,” Tiger head coach Cory Haese said. “Shawano is really nice team. They have a really good record and have beaten some really good teams (including #1 ranked Seymour last week) and we knew it was going to be a battle. We knew it was going to be physical and our kids matched that intensity.”
The Tigers started off quickly, going on an early 6-0 run to start the game, harassing the Hawks into several bad shots and turnovers. Wrightstown won the first two quarters by identical 10-7 scores. Neither team shot particularly well, both shooting 28% from the field, but that can be attributed to the great defense played by both teams.
The main advantage in the game that the Tigers had was on the defensive side of the ball and at the free throw line. Wrightstown as struggled from the charity stripe in the last two games, but against Shawano, they got their stroke back, draining 17 of 23, a 73% clip. The Hawks were 8 of 14 from the free throw line.
The length of the Tigers also caused problems for the Hawks. The Tigers forced Shawano into 11 turnovers, but had 18 deflections, a testament to the long arms of the Tigers getting into the passing lanes and disrupting the Hawks’ offense. The Tigers also had 8 blocks.
Six of those blocks came at the hands of Doug Fabry. The 6’6 senior gave the Hawks fits all evening on both sides of the court. Fabry got off to a fast start, scoring 13 of his game 16 points in the first half. He was also dead-on from the free throw line, going 7 of 9 from the charity stripe. He added nine rebounds to his impressive stat line.
“We wanted to work on free throws and pick it up on defense a lot more than we have in the last couple of games,” Fabry said. “It was nice to have some energy and get it down defensively.”
Where Fabry left off, Nathan Larson picked up. The 6’7 swingman had 15 points and added six rebounds in the victory, scoring 10 of his points in the second half. Larry, as he is affectionately known on the team, was 6 for 8 from the free throw line.
“They are seniors and they are our leaders,” Haese said of Fabry and Larson. “They have been through the battles and played a lot of basketball in their careers. It’s after Christmas now and the home stretch is in front of us. They came out and were unselfish; they made the plays they had to make and did a real nice job.”
For Fabry and the Tigers, they can gain a lot of knowledge playing in a tournament like this.
“What it really helps with is that it gives a lot of different looks,” the senior said. “We play the conference teams all the time and we kinda know what they are doing. Here, we just have to go and play ball.”
The Tigers will face the Freedom Irish in game two of the Sun-Drop Classic at 5:30 pm on December 28th. The tournament is being played at the Kress Events Center on the campus of UWGB.