Mink, Howe big guns in two wins opening week of hoops

Still green from a late start practicing, the Huskies notched two wins in three games opening week of basketball season with fire from their big guns, Anthony Mink and Ricky Howe.

Mink shot 7-9 from the three-point line, scoring 33, to lead the Huskies 66-50 over Cottage Grove Saturday night at home. Howe scored 20, the last bucket with one second left, to lead the Huskies 44-42 against Elmira the night before. Creswell battered the Huskies on Dec. 3 70-62 in the first game of the season. All three games were at home.

“We played that game on five practices,” Coach Mark Risen said. “So we were pretty green. We also have five new guys who don’t know our system yet. I give our kids a B-minus for a grade.”

They played hard and hustled, Coach risen said. They did the things they were asked. When they couldn’t, it was because they hadn’t been taught them yet.

The Huskies had perhaps 8 percent of its system in place by opening night, Coach Risen said. Creswell has eight guys that have played together for two years. With Creswell’s coaching, the team had its system in place.

“All in all, I was okay with that game,” Coach Risen said.

Creswell led 16-13 after the first quarter and 36-31 after the first half. Creswell widened the gap in the third quarter with a 19-6 run.

“Friday was exciting,” Coach Risen said. The Huskies led most of the game by seven or eight points. The Huskies tried to put Elmira away a couple of times. They tried to use the clock to time their scoring, but “we ended up getting a little bit tentative.”

Elmira went up by two with a minute left. Howe stole the ball and finished a layup drawing an intentional foul. Sinking two free throws, the Huskies were up by two with the ball.

They took a chance for a quick hoop, Coach Risen said, but Elmira came up with the ball, scoring it with about 20 seconds left.

Tied, the Huskies flew down the court and missed a couple of shots. When the ball was knocked out of bounds, Howe passed it in to Mink who passed it right back. Ducking through defenders, Howe went up with the game-winning shot just before the buzzer.

“We kind of felt that was a good old-fashioned Sweet Home win — Tough defense and taking care of business down the stretch,” Coach Risen said. ”

Howe came up with 20 points on the game. Mink added 11. The two combined for 31 of the team’s 44 points that game. Just before the game, Coach Risen said, he had been talking to the two about looking for each other on the court.

“I felt like they really went out and did that,” he said. Being just two weeks into the season and learning on the fly, their playing off each other shows how coachable the two are.

While Howe and Mink were dominating the hoop, their teammates were busy paving the road ahead of them.

“I thought our post defense was superb,” Coach Risen said. That group included Donny Cliver guarding much larger opponents and Seth Graves, who in two weeks, is developing into an “inside stopper,” like Shane Emmert or Craig Bergevin. Rounding that group out is Matt Slauson who just physically grinds his opponents down.

Those three exhausted Elmira’s 6’7″ post, Coach Risen said. They forced his game to change and took him out of the game. That group dominated the boards too pulling down 20 rebounds to Elmira’s nine.

Defense overall was spectacular, Coach Risen said, especially against a post-oriented team, like Elmira.

Against Cottage Grove, Mink scored 33 points, including seven threes. That’s the most any player has scored with Coach Risen in Sweet Home, now in his sixth season.

All through the game, the Huskies had different guys get hot. The team as a whole shot 11-20 from the three-point line. Tim Matuszak hit back-to-back threes. Donny Cliver hit a three back-to-back with a 17-foot jumper. Howe added another three.

Cottage Grove gave the Huskies are hard time, pounding their offense to the inside, Coach Risen said. “I was a little disappointed in our defense that night probably because it was so good on Friday night.”

The Huskies led seven to 10 points most of the game after jumping out to an early 12-4 lead to set the tone. They turned the ball over only 12 times after turning it over 23 and 21 times respectively against Creswell and Elmira.

With a starting lineup that ranges from 5’6″ to 6’2″, the Huskies faced down a team that fielded only one under 6’2″.

“There’s just no substitute for heart, determination,” Coach Risen said. “We definitely have an edge with so many intangible factors. I wish I could bottle that and sell it, I’d be a millionaire.”

Overall, Coach Risen is pleased with his team’s performance. Matuszak is doing well at point with a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio. He’s got 19 assists so far with 10 turnovers as well as adding close to 10 points per game.

“Mike Severns is the most underrated player in our league,” Coach Risen said. “He’s the ultimate role player. Whatever needs to be done on the floor is done.”

Brian Seward is regaining his confidence after not playing his junior year, Coach Risen said. He is defending solidly and improving offensively.

“I really like the fact he’s letting the game come to him,” Coach Risen said. “(Matt) Slauson I a delight. What a crowd favorite.”

Slauson is doing a great job on boards with a nice touch around the hoop, Coach Risen said. He plays instinctively and makes things happen.

Matt Zollman was another post defender who helped out on Friday night, Coach Risen said, and both Ravi and Ronak Patel came off the bench to give good minutes against Elmira.

Brandon Miner is just beginning to take off, Coach Risen said. Once he is comfortable with the program, he anticipates Miner to be brilliant on the floor. He’s already showed flashes of brilliance in the first week.

“If you told me we’d be 2-1 after seven practices,” Coach Risen said. “I’d have told you you’re out of your mind.”

Against Creswell, Mink led with 20 points. Matuszak and Howe each added nine points. Matuszak had five assists. Cliver and Severns each scored three points. Ian Gabbard led Creswell with 18, and Jim McQuiston added 17.

Against Elmira, Howe led with 20 points and five steals. Mink added 11. Matuszak scored six. Cliver scored four. Miner scored two, and Slauson scored one. John Miller and Brett Winters led Elmira with 12 points each.

Against Cottage Grove, Mink led with 33 points. Matuszak added 11 with six assists. How scored eight; Cliver, seven; Severns, four; Graves, two; and Miner, one.