The Whitko Wildcats hosted the Manchester Squires Saturday, February 12, defeating their Three Rivers Conference rivals 61-34. The Wildcats secured the TRC title with the win. Above, Alex Stoddard rebounds the ball high above Manchester players Jim Sainsbury, No. 14, and Derek Self, No. 3 and teammates Zac VanDeWater, No. 5 and Derek Snep, No. 21.
Above, Whiko’s Logan Irwin flies past Manchester defensemen for 2. Irwin scored 26 points in the game. (Tribune-News photos by TRSmith)
By MIKE KRAUSE
Saturday afternoon, February 12, the Whitko Wildcats beat the Manchester Squires by a score of 61 - 34 to win the Three Rivers Conference boys’ basketball championship outright with a record of 7 - 0. The Wildcats dominated the entire conference, holding their foes to an average of 42.4 points per game; while averaging 62.2 points per game them selves, for a 19.8 average margin of victory.
Saturday’s victory was especially rewarding as it was the perfect way to send a “get well” message to coach Rob Irwin as well as compliment the annual fund raiser for leukemia, the treatments for which have sidelined the coach.
Additionally, Saturday was seniors day and six Wildcat varsity players were given special recognition: Zac VanDeWater, Mitch Yeager, Kory Wood, Scott Skiles, Tyler Wine and Travis Wiegold.
Coach Mike Kline started the game with five seniors and five of them added their name to the scoreboard before the game was over.
The first quarter was highlighted by three of Zac VanDeWater’s thunderous “dunks” although only one was allowed. The officials nullified two for various violations. Regardless, the crowd roared with each attempt. On a fourth break-a-way, VanDeWater was hacked very hard by a Manchester player trying to prevent a possible fourth dunk. VanDeWater was thrown to the floor and frankly a lesser young man would have retaliated against the Mancester player. Not VandeWater; he has too much class to lower himself to that level.
Logan Irwin demonstrated his maturity and leadership in realizing this was a game to be won; and methodically guided the team to a first half 28 - 29 lead. Logan had 11 firsthalf points. Max Elder was banged up a bit by frustrated Manchester Squires and remained on the bench as a precautionary measure for the entire second half.
The Wildcats pulled away in the second half to a 30 point lead behind the leadership of Irwin and VanDeWater.
Derek Snep stepped up in the absence of Max Elder and crashed the boards to add 8 points.
The final score was Whitko 61 - Manchester 34. Irwin led all scorers with 26 points, followed by VanDeWater’s, Snep’s and Yeager’s 11, 8 and 5 points respectively.
Coach Mike Kline noted the team “really put together a good second half.” The Wildcats allowed 15 second half points while scoring 33 points. Coach Kline also indicated “We are going to have to put two halves together against the teams on our upcoming schedule.”
The Wildcat’s play away games at Wayne High School Friday and Churubusco Saturday nights. The games start at 6 p.m.