PLAIN CITY – The Woods Cross Wildcats boys’ basketball team turned a potential blowout game into a game they nearly lost.
After building a 13-point lead after the opening quarter, the Wildcats defense was barely able to hold off a late charge by the Fremont Silver Wolves, and walked out of the Fremont gym with a 56-50 win.
“That was probably a closer game than we would like,” said Wildcats’ coach Kasey Walkenhurst. “But I think it’s a good thing for us. To be able to grind out games, and especially when our region games come, you’re going to have to grind it out to get those wins.”
The Wildcats did anything but grind through the first eight minutes, scoring 20 points to take a 13-point lead. Woods Cross used a combination of up-tempo offense and a full-court pressure-type defense to take the lead, but allowed the Silver Wolves to start trimming into the lead in the following quarters.
“Our pressure is really good when we’re making shots,” said Walkenhurst. “But when we start missing shots and can’t put the pressure on the team, it makes it difficult to keep the energy up on the floor.”
The Wildcats started to apply more full-court pressure to start the second half, but Fremont was still able to cut into its deficit by making shots early and often.
A quick 7-0 run by Woods Cross netted them a 12-point lead, halfway through the third quarter, but Fremont closed the quarter by cutting Woods Cross’s lead to five points.
The switch from full-court to half-court pressure in alternating quarters, said Walkenhurst, was due to the situation of the game rather than it being part of the game plan itself.
“A lot of it was dictated on our ability to make shots, and we made shots in the first quarter,” he said. “We were able to press and get after it, then the second quarter we couldn’t buy a basket, and in the third quarter we were scoring again.”
The Wildcats defense switched back to a half-court defense in the final quarter, giving Fremont more opportunities to close in on the lead.
Fremont’s Kole Calvert scored five consecutive points in the closing minutes to cut the score to 52-50 with less than two minutes remaining, but converted free throws by Xequille Harry and Jackson Pohlman gave the Wildcats just enough of a cushion to hold off the comeback charge.
“We’re not really playing our best basketball, but that’s a good thing,” said Walkenhurst. “I know that we’re not peaking right now, because if we were, I’d be a little concerned. We got a lot to improve on, but by the time we get to region I think we’ll be a tough team to play against.”
Pohlman finished the game with 17 points, and Harry added 14 points for the Wildcats in the win. The Wildcats have won two straight games, and six of its first seven to start the season.
“We have some really good senior leadership with Pohlman and (Garrett) Grant, and (Luke) Jowers and Xequille,” said Walkenhurst. “They have good varsity experience and they’re not afraid to face anybody. We know we have the ability to beat anybody.”
The Wildcats’ next game will be against Copper Hills at Copper Hills High School on Friday, Jan. firstname.lastname@example.org