February 8, 2014

Am-Po undone by ranked Okarche

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star

AMBER — The number one team in Class B, the infamous and undefeated Okarche, is steaming into the postseason after their 59-27 win over Amber-Pocasset.

It was an all-around performance that seemed to take the Lady Panthers somewhat off guard. Scoring for the home team was tough, and stopping the flood of buckets on the other end was even tougher. The Lady Warriors’ ability to score anywhere and everywhere was encompassed by Morgan Vogt’s game-high 24 points.

Vogt sank 16 points in a first half of utter Lady Warrior dominance. The full-court press akin to a line of barbed wire, it took some brave and difficult moves for the Lady Panthers to cross. It was a big reason why they only had one field goal in the first half with Suzanne Parker’s put-back jumper off the glass.

It was clearly the opposite on the other end. Okarche had seven first-half threes. Kenaday Grellner’s first of two in the half made it a 10-0 start, while Vogt put in three. The frustration was also clear. The Lady Warriors reaped all the benefits when Am-Po coach Steve Pelzer was given a technical. It all contributed to a 39-10 first half score line, with most Lady Panther points coming from the free throw line.

They showed the fight was still in them coming out of the break. First Haley Savage hit a three before Ashtin Green sank another. But from there, it was back to business. Okarche saw out the third with a 15-2 run, with six more points falling to Vogt. Grellner added more with some midrange jumpers and finished with 17 points.

It was like a kitten meeting a lion, and Okarche’s bite is big. No team is ever perfect, but the Lady Warriors certainly played like it and played like they still have so much to prove. Many of their starters stayed on the floor until early in the fourth quarter, when Vogt saw out her game with a breakaway layup.

Okarche boys beat Amber-Pocassett with the proverbial unicorn of basketball: a big guy with range.

Hunter Frisby led the floor with 22 points, and twelve of those points came from beyond the arc. The Warriors’ 54-22 win came amid some lights out shooting on one end and an inability to even buy a bucket at the other. The fact that the shots just weren’t falling for Am-Po made the score line a little worse than it probably should have been.

Solid defense from Okarche was also to blame. The pressed high and often, forcing turnovers that they, most of the time, turned into buckets.

Frisby showed he wasn’t the typical big man very early. His first three buckets were threes, helping Okarche to an 11-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.

James answered back with a three at the other end, contributing to his first half haul of seven to lead the Panthers. Okarche’s half-court press defense proved difficult for Am-Po to break down. When they did, it was still tough to find room inside the perimeter with Frisby guarding the hoop.

A 9-2 run to start the second quarter really put Okarche in command. Capping all this was Frisby once again, this time on a corner three he was fouled in the process of making. The extra point made it a four point swing, and by halftime the Warriors led by 18.

If the second quarter put Am-Po behind, the third ended it. Tyler Miller’s second three of the night was all they got. Meanwhile, Robert Ernsting went to work, his best shot coming under heavy pressure on a fade-away from the block. That gave him six for the quarter as Okarche outscored the Panthers by 13.

The Panthers did find some form toward the end. Cody Clem sank two from beyond the arc in the final minutes of the fourth.