After a staggering start Coldwater came back Friday to post one of the season’s impressive offensive exhibitions against Delphos St. John, featuring 29 points from Marcus Bruns. The message they meant to send was…there’s more where that came from.
Coldwater – For the first three minutes and twenty seconds Friday Delphos St. John could do no wrong. Tyler Ruda hit a pair of threes…teammate Lucas Metcalfe hit another…and before the Coldwater Cavaliers knew what hit ’em they were behind 11-0.
It’s true. St. John hit four of its first five shots from the field, contested a like amount of Coldwater shots at the other end, and for all the world it looked like the Jays were about to go 10-4, and a perfect 4-0 in MAC play. Think again.
“It’s hard to believe after the way we started,” said Jays coach Aaron Elwer later. “But Coldwater’s dangerous. They’re as talented as anyone in our league, and their win-loss record is not indicative of how good they are.”
Get the hint?
From the 4:40 point of the first quarter Coldwater went nuts, offensively, outscoring Delphos St. John 37-6 over the next twelve-plus minutes. Marcus Brun hit a pair of threes. Ben Wenning hit a pair of threes. And Myles Blasingame hit a three. And to add more energy to things Cole Frilling stole the ball at mid-court and rattled down a dunk to stake the Cavaliers to a 21-13 lead at the end of the period. And of course, there was another quarter to play so Bruns continued to shoot, and hit, scoring 17 first half points. And Frilling would continue to dunk…or try. He missed one, and tried to go Globetrotter on another, a play where he attempted to bounce the ball to himself off the backboard and then dunk it. The fuse on that bomb fizzled, however, and it never got off the ground.
It didn’t matter. Their 37-point outburst had set Delphos reeling, and Coldwater (6-7, and 2-2 in MAC play) would never look back. Bruns finished the game with 29 points, on 50% shooting from the floor and five made three’s in ten attempts. Frilling kept harrassing the rim, as well, finishing with 18 points (and no more dunks). Ben Wenning, Justin Schwieterman, Blasingame, Noah Miller, Andrew Schoen, and Jake Hemmelgarn…they all scored, and frankly, looked anything but like a 6-7 team that lost its first four games out of the chute – anything but the team that lost to Minster last Friday night!
More Aaron Elwer: “I saw them against Celina earlier this week when they made twelve threes, and I don’t know how many they made tonight, but it seemed like that many. They have a lot of weapons out there, and we had no answer for them after the first four minutes.”
In fact, Coach, they only had ten three-pointers on Friday (Bruns had five himself), but the manner in which they played after the first four minutes would lead you to believe that their best basketball is indeed ahead. Just two weeks away from the tournament draw, Coldwater, the way they played Friday, is a team no one would want to play in the early rounds.
“Shots were just falling for the whole team,” said Marcus Bruns. “And it’s hard to beat us when we’re making shots. We executed our game plan on offense, but defensively, we stepped things up tonight. What did we hold them to, 40 points? Defense is what we hang our hat on.”
Well, you held them to 49 actually, but Delphos never quit, hitting a trio of late threes and scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter…or they would have been held to 40 points, or less. As it was, Grant Scukker had a team-high 15 points, Jared Wurst had 10, while Ruda and Metcalfe each finished with 8.
In his office after the game, Coldwater coach Nick Fisher didn’t look like someone who had suffered through seven excruciating losses, and took pains to explain why…all of a sudden…the Coldwater Cavaliers looked Friday like they could have beaten the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I told you last week that when we hit shots we’re tough to beat,” said Fisher. “And we’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot like that. The way we started tonight was your worst nightmare, but we’ve got a lot of seniors and they’ve been through those kind of battles before. And after we made some shots, as the game went on, we probably played as good a defense as we’ve played for awhile.”
Especially interior defense, where Frilling, Bruns, Schwieterman, Wenning and company, contested every Delphos attempt to feed the post – denying the passing lanes and causing a lot of deflections. And as the points mounted, and the feeding frenzy gained force, it got harder and harder for Delphos to get to the rim.
“At the outset I thought they were being more physical, and that it was bothering us,” added Fisher. “We had a timeout and we talked about that because it bothered me. After we matched their physicality we became a different team. We were like a boxer. We got knocked down in the first few minutes, but at least we got up and fought back. As I said earlier, we have a lot of expectations, and we’ve worked hard on some little things along that way that are beginning to show in how we play.”
In fact, Marcus Bruns, Cole Frilling, Ben Wenning, et. al. might just have played the best thirty two minutes of basketball of anyone so far this year. Execution, as Bruns said, was sharp on offense. And their commitment to defend was as good as anything you could plan. And Delphos coming in, was a team unbeaten in league play with plans of their own.
“Well, you never know what you’re going to get in a conference game on the road against a quality opponent,” said Aaron Elwer. “And we were feeling good with the start that we had. But then Wenning hit back-to-back threes, Bruns was great, and that just fueled their defensive intensity. We had some bad turnovers and did some things that were just out of character for us. We average eight a game, and they dictated that tonight. Credit Coldwater because they did some things we expected them to do and we didn’t handle it very well.”
They issue now is, on a night where the league proved to be wide open with Marion losing, Versailles losing, and Coldwater, Minster and St. Henry winning impressively, who can play with consistency like that for the next three weeks?
“Well, we’ve got a great group that meshes well,” said Fisher. “Obviously we have the shooters, and tonight those same guys gave us the best defensive effort of the year. I think there’s a lot of potential on that locker room, and it’s beginning to show.”
And as to the extra-curriculars and attempts to dunk like LeBron….was that in the game plan?
“Well, we talked about it a little on the bench,” smiled Fisher. “But it’s hard to get on someone, or say something, when you have a guy who works as hard as Cole does. He really gets his motor running and it’s hard to get mad when he comes out and defends Jared Wurst like he did tonight. We got it straightened out.”
But more importantly, they served notice Friday that they’ve gotten a lot of things straightened out. Because Delphos St. John is a good basketball team…and there wasn’t much they could do about it.