BOYS BASKETBALL: Troy's stingy defense stops Utica Ford, losing streak | North Oakland Sports
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BOYS BASKETBALL: Troy’s stingy defense stops Utica Ford, losing streak

| February 24, 2013 | Comments (0)

TROY — Danny Wunderlich has been at a size disadvantage all season.

The 6-foot-2 junior forward Danny Wunderlich had battled North Farmington’s 6-6 Jeron Rogers and Clarkston’s 6-8 Mike Nicholson.

It was about time he found an opponent his own size.

“He was a happy camper tonight,” Troy coach Gary Fralick said.

Wunderlich’s near double-double led a gutsy Troy effort in a 54-38 win over Utica Ford (7-11) Friday night, the fewest points allowed by the Colts (7-11) all season.

“We knew that our tough games were past us,” said senior point guard Zak Noor of 80-62, 68-42 and 87-46 losses to Southfield, North Farmington and Clarkston, respectively. “We just played as a team on our home court.”

After spotting Ford an early 21-17 lead, Troy slipped into a 2-3 zone late in the second quarter and throughout the second half. The Falcons failed to exploit the zone, shooting only three-for-19 from long range.

Wunderlich, Troy’s top post player, cleaned up on the glass to secure defensive stops.

“I always try to feel out my opponent and find his weaknesses,” Wunderlich said. “He didn’t really try to get positioning. He was physical—he would put an arm out and try to bump me — but I’d just get around him.”

The Colts pulled away with long runs at the ends of quarters. They countered Ford’s 21-17 lead with an 11-0 run to end the half, allowing no points in the last 4:17 and no field goals in the last 5:35.

“We started running the ball up the floor again,” Fralick said. “That’s how they beat us in transition — they beat us a couple times and we gave up baseline drives. We just made it too easy on them.”

Then, they finished the third quarter with a 6-0 run over the last 3:36 and gave up only four points in the fourth quarter.

With a lead of only ten, the fourth quarter was relatively easy for Troy as they built the deficit to 15 with a 3-pointer from Joe Leonard with 4:45 left. As a team, the Colts allowed Ford to shoot only 27 percent.

 

“We got a win, and we’re going to take it,” Fralick said. “It wasn’t a very pretty game, but it was a win, and right now, we take all wins we can get.”

Troy also turned the ball over four times combined in the final three quarters.

“They didn’t press us much, so that always helps,” Fralick said. “I thought the pressure

that they [brought] was solid, but we’re used to North Farmington and Southfield and

Clarkston’s types of pressure, and I thought that made a difference.

“Their size was very similar to our size, so we didn’t feel as overmatched physically as we have been in the past.”

Leonard got untracked as well, shooting five-for-eight from the floor and two-for-four from distance for a team-high 15 points. With Leonard, Fralick said the difference was the size matchups again.

After three straight losses, Troy will head into next week with a bit of momentum. The Colts host West Bloomfield as they try to avenge a 75-57 loss, and then play Pontiac on Senior Night next Friday.

“We know we can beat (West Bloomfield),” said Noor, who added 12 points. “It’ll give us momentum going into the playoffs.”

“It will get our confidence all the way back if we can win both of them,” Fralick said. “I feel good about us right now.”

Troy opens the district tournament March 6 at home against the winner of Waterford Mott and Auburn Hills Avondale in its first playoff home game since 2009.

“We’ve got all home games here on out until after we win the district,” Wunderlich said.

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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