SYCAMORE — Fostoria High School coach Rick Renz talked to his team before Tuesday night’s nonconference game against Mohawk about getting off to a good start, unlike it did against Tiffin Columbian Saturday when the Redmen were outscored 22-4 in the first quarter on the way to a 63-40 loss.
This time, Renz got what he was looking for.
Fostoria took advantage of a height differential in the paint to win the rebounding battle 36-24 and a pressure defense that turned the Warriors over 29 times to win its first game of the season 68-43.
The Redmen (1-3) got eight points from Kaleb Bemis, who finished with a game-high 17, in the first quarter to put the team up 13-9 after one.
The defense stepped up its intensity in the second, forcing Mohawk (0-4) into nine turnovers in the period and 16 total in the first half as Deandre Cannon pumped in nine of his 10 points to help Fostoria increase its lead to 30-18 at the half.
“We upped the tempo a little bit tonight defensively,” Renz said. “We thought we had to do something to maybe get us a little more aggressive. … I was real happy with that, with the mentality we came out with.
“It’s never easy going on the road on a school-night game and be able to be victorious but they came out with the right mindset tonight. In the first and third quarter we came out strong and that was, in my opinion, the difference in the game.”
Mohawk coach Mike Mathey said his team has struggled to defeat pressure defenses on a consistent basis so far this season and Fostoria’s caused problems all night. He said it is something they will continue to focus on and work to get better at it.
“That was definitely a focus,” Mathey said of not turning the ball over. “It’s the focus all season. We’ve just got to keep getting better at it. Give them credit, they forced us into some turnovers. They put the press on us and we did not handle it very well.”
The pressure kept coming in the second half and the Redmen offense began to catch fire as well.
Hunter Abell’s layup with just over three minutes to play in the third put Fostioria up 41-24 and they capitalized on nine Mohawk turnovers to enter the final frame with a 49-34 advantage.
A basket by Mitch Parker and a pair of free throws from Gunnar Johnson got the Warriors within 51-41 minutes into the fourth but a 3-pointer by Kagen Brown, a basket by Abell and a pair of free throws from Bemis extended the margin back to 58-41 with under four to play and Mohawk would never recover.
Despite winning its first game of the season, Renz said he hopes his team learned a more important lesson about finishing the game strong and not giving the opponent a chance at the end.
“I think the thing that showed us, we need to work on learning how to close out a game,” he said. “I felt we had the opportunity a couple times to extend it and instead they fought right back.
“The good thing is we responded with a nice run of our own and was able to get a lot of kids in the basketball game tonight, a lot of kids got on the scoreboard”
Abell finished with 10 points, while Drew Stennett added six points and eight rebounds, Rayshon Martin netted five points to go with eight rebounds and Bemis grabbed seven boards for the Redmen.
Mohawk was led by Parker’s 14 points and five rebounds, Hunter Fitschen scored 10 points and Johnson snared a six rebounds.
Ka. Bemis 5-5–17, Ko. Bemis 1-0–3, Brown 3-0–9, Medina 1-2–4, Cannon 2-6–10, Mauricio 2-0–4, Renz 0-0–0, Martin 1-3–5, Abell 5-0–10, Stennett 3-0–6, Mahan 0-0–0, Matz 0-0–0, Stone 0-0–0. TOTALS: 22-59 16-28–68.
Fitschen 3-2–10, Jeffrey 2-0–4, Parker 5-4–14, Stillberger 0-0–0, Johnson 0-4–4, Eaton 0-0–0, Dunlap 2-2–7, Pummell 0-0–0, Morter 1-0–2, Fredritz 1-2–4. TOTALS: 14-39 14-26–45.
Fostoria 13 17 19 19 — 68
Mohawk 9 9 16 11 — 45
3-Point GOALS: Fostoria 6-19 (Brown 3, Ka. Bemis 2, Ko. Bemis); Mohawk 3-13 (Fitschen 2, Dunlap).
REBOUNDS: Fostoria 36 (Martin 8, Stennett 8); Mohawk 24 (Johnson 6).
TURNOVERS: Fostoria 17; Mohawk 29.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Fostoria, 83-27.