By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY - Playing without 6-8 junior Scott Woodring for the first time this season, Waverly struggled in nearly every facet of the game, dropping a 67-34 decision to unbeaten S-VE here Friday night in IAC boys basketball action.
In seven games this season, Woodring was averaging 32.7 points and 16.9 rebounds per game, but he injured his knee Wednesday at practice and is sidelined indefinitely.
"He does so much for us," said Waverly coach Lou Judson. "It's not just the points and rebounds.
"It's his presence in the middle of the defense, finding the open man when he's being double- or triple-teamed, getting the offensive rebound to create extra possessions, or bringing the ball up court for us when we need him to."
Judson said he and his team are still trying to re-group.
"I think some of the guys are in shock, and understandably so, I am too as a coach," he said. "I think some of our kids are feeling sorry for themselves, and not really understanding the true complexity of what's taking place.
"We're searching for answers," noted Judson. "They're looking at me for answers and for the first time in my coaching career I don't have any answers.
"I feel so bad for this team because we were just starting to come around, and I feel so bad for Scotty," said an emotional Judson. "It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's going to make us better in the long run."
Judson said Woodring will know more about the injury Friday.
"He has an MRI scheduled next week and that will tell the story. We'll have a better idea after that," he said. "If he needs surgery, he'll be out four to six weeks and likely be done for the season.
"It's a very unfortunate situation for a player, who has probably had the best early part of the season that I can ever remember.
"When you take that away from a team that's young and inexperienced, and then you come out and play one of the best teams in the league ... it's a perfect storm," added Judson.
The win is S-VE's first over Waverly since the 2009-10 season.
S-VE coach Jeremy Kasetnhuber was pleased with his team's performance, but acknowledged the absence of Woodring was a game-changer.
"They didn't have a 6-8 guy in the middle of their defense that was a threat to grab every rebound and block every shot," said Kastenhuber. "And our entire game plan on defense was to limit his touches below the free-throw line.
"Obviously, when I found out he wasn't playing this morning, the 20 hours of film I watched charting everything he does kind of went out the window, but what we do every day and what we do in every other game when we're not facing a center that big and of that caliber is what we fell back on," he added.
The Panthers hauled down 52 rebounds, including 19 on the offensive glass, while Waverly had 26 boards, and only four offensive rebounds.
"They were probably going to do a good job on the boards against us even if we had Scotty, but when I look out there and I have a freshman and two sophomores and we're playing a team like that with the experience and physicality they have, they're going to beat us up on the glass," said Judson.
"We've been able dominate on the boards throughout the season," said Kastenhuber. "We're very aggressive on the glass, it's been a focal point for us.
"We love to rebound the ball, it's a team effort," he added. "Even our guards go after it, and can come down with double-digit rebounds on any given night."
The Panthers got off to a quick start and never looked back.
Sophomore James Sutherlin banked in a runner in the lane to cap S-VE's game-opening 7-0 run with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Waverly missed its first seven shots from the field, but finally got on the board with 3:56 remaining on a free throw by senior Dylan Ward.
After a short jumper by Sutherlin, off a feed from senior Ben VanGalder, gave S-VE a 9-1 lead, junior Jalen McCarty scored Waverly's first field goal with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
In less than a minute, junior Noah Mack and Sutherlin hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Panthers a 15-3 lead en route to a 17-7 lead after the first eight minutes.
Waverly closed the gap to eight points, at 20-12, on a 3-pointer by McCarty midway through the second quarter, but consecutive buckets by Nathan Mack and Noah Mack triggered an 8-2 spurt to end the half, giving the Panthers a 28-14 lead.
"I was pleased with our first half. I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting them to one or two shots, and holding them to 28 points."
"Of course, it was a little bit of Fool's Gold, and I knew better," said Judson. "At the end of the day it is what it is. The kids played hard, and that's all I can ask."
The Wolverines made just 5 of 26 (19 percent) shots from the field in the first half, including just 1 of 13 (8 percent) from behind the 3-point arc.
The Panthers had six different players find the scoring column in the third quarter, taking their biggest lead of the game, at 48-24, with 52 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by Matthew Byrne and a short jumper in traffic by Christian Kunzman.
Sophomore Matt Merrick drained a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Blaine Whitmarsh and Sutherlin scored four points apiece as S-VE stretched its lead to 36 points in the final minute.
McCarty and sophomore Peyton Bowen each knocked down 3-pointers for the Wolverines, who were 1 of 8 (13 percent) from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, and 9 of 24 (38 percent) in the game.
Sutherlin led S-VE with 16 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and one blocked shot, while Noah Mack had 15 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, and Nathan Mack scored 12 points, hauled down 15 boards, and blocked one shot.
Wilson Cooper had six points in the win, while Merrick added six points and three rebounds, Whitmarsh chipped in with four points, and Byrne grabbed four boards.
McCarty led Waverly 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Ward had 10 points four rebounds and one blocked shot, Bowen added six points and one block, and junior Elijah Kraft chipped in with four points and three boards.
S-VE, now 8-0, hosts Union Springs Tuesday, while Waverly is back in action Saturday afternoon at Thomas A. Edison.
IN PHOTO 1: Waverly's Peyton Bowen. ... PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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