By Brian Besch
The Wildcats of Onalaska were impressive in Tuesday’s win over Goodrich, a 91-7 contest.
Onalaska has begun the season well, winning all three of its games to this point. They started the first half by controlling the Hornet offense with a press and turning turnovers into buckets.
“So far it has been a good year,” Onalaska coach Nicholas Tyerman said. “We started off with a good win against Mumford, who was state-ranked this year. They are always a really good straight basketball school. As you saw at the beginning of today, we are a straight full court run and jump. That is who we are, and it was a little hard to try to get my kids used to that. We have been training and working toward it, but we are pressuring the ball and getting after it.”
Goodrich could not keep up with the speed of the Wildcats in the first half. The score was 53-2 at halftime.
“We are young and have to get a little more aggressive,” Hornet coach Lester King said. “We have to know when to pass and know when to shoot and block out on defense. We are trying to outjump everybody and do the stuff that you do out in the yard, but we just have to work a little harder. It is mainly defense and better passing. They had turnovers just like we did, it’s just that we didn’t convert theirs. They converted it when we turned it over.”
This is the Hornets’ first game of the season and a tough way for youngsters to be introduced to varsity basketball. A portion of the Goodrich squad was playing eighth-grade hoops last season. The game will eventually slow down for many getting their first tastes of the faster game.
“We are working on January, and once we get there, we will be a lot better,” King said. “Those little freshmen will get it out of their system that this isn’t junior high anymore. It is aggressive out there and somebody will be in their britches every night. They will get much better. We play hard, but we are trying to do too much when we throw the ball away.”
All 11 players suited up Tuesday scored for the ‘Cats. Lucas Jackson led with 14 points, freshman Patrick Roth had 13, Johnny Byrd 13 and Brayden Topkins 10.
“Our biggest thing right now is I want to get a lot better offensive rebounding wise,” Tyerman said. “We play at a fast pace and we take good open shots, but sometimes open shots aren’t going to fall. We want those extra shots and that is the biggest thing for us. If we do that, we are going to have big things. Right now, we have been so focused on the defensive side. It is going to give a lot of people problems and I’m excited about Friday. We go to Orangefield and they are ranked 20th in the state in 3A. It is going to be a great test for us early in the year. I think it’ll be something that will earn the kids a lot of respect around the state that they deserve.”
Onalaska is a bigger and stronger team than any Tyerman has had in his seven years at the school. He also has five seniors in a group of 12, where all get plenty of minutes.
“The biggest thing has been the unselfishness. They are 100% bought into playing the team concept on the defense and offense. When you play that fast, you don’t even have time to think about who is shooting the ball, because everybody is shooting the ball. Nobody has a way to get upset with each other and they just enjoy each other so much. Practices are fun because they are very competitive.”