Indians end regular season with win over Fennville
By Leo Martonosi
Andy Diaz’s first experience taking on rival Fennville in a head-coaching role didn’t go so well, as his Saugatuck boys’ basketball team lost by 15 points in January.
The second time around went much better, with the Indians posting the 61-53 home win over the Blackhawks to close out the regular season.
“It was an emotional game and to come out on top in one of the greatest high school rivalries in the state means so much,” said Diaz several minutes after the Thursday, March 2, contest.
Diaz knows how much these games mean to members of both communities.
“Winning tonight is what this rivalry is all about,” he said.
The Indians came out of the gate quickly, grabbing a quick 7-0 lead on two baskets and a free throw by Blake Dunn (17 points on the night), and a bucket by Wyatt Werme (15 points).
“It was important to get off to a quick start,” Diaz said.
Fennville coach Joe Rodriguez felt responsible for the Blackhawks slow start and ultimately his team’s third loss of the season compared to 17 victories.
“Even though we tied up the game (12-12) at the end of the first quarter and led (25-22) at the half we dug ourselves into a hole that was difficult to get out of. ” Rodriguez said. “(Losing the regular-season finale) definitely wasn’t the way we wanted to go into districts.”
As for Diaz, whose team improved to 15-5, he couldn’t think of a better way to enter the postseason.
“This is just want we needed going into the playoffs,” he said.
With Connor Carper (nine points) dishing off one assist after another, the Indians took a 45-40 lead into the fourth stanza.
“This was our most complete game and best overall game of the season,” Diaz said.
Saugatuck also received strong contributions from Teaque Tiemeyer (nine points) and Brad Dunn (eight points), who swished all four of his field goal attempts.
“I’m super proud of him” Blake Dunn said of his younger brother.
For Brad Dunn, helping his older brother and the team’s other seniors secure a win over Fennville was a motivating force.
“We all wanted to win for Blake, (Werme) and Josh (Schutznhofer), our three seniors,” Brad Dunn said
For Blake Dunn, the win was well worth the wait.
“This was the first time we’ve beaten Fennville (in basketball) since my freshman year,” he said. “There’s no better way to finish the regular season than by beating your rival.”
Three Fennville players scored in double figures: Austin Lewis (14 points), John Paul Alfaro (13 points) and Julian Martinez-Grigg (10 points).
It was tough for fans from both schools to locate a seat.
“This game is going to prepare us for the (state) tournament,” Rodriguez said. “We lost the game but the message in the locker room was to not lose the lesson.”
Contact Leo Martonosi at email@example.com.