BELDING — Intensity is never a problem when Belding and Greenville meet. That is true for any sport between the two rivals.
On the hard court Friday, the Yellow Jackets bounced back from a poor defensive effort on Tuesday to shut down the Redskins early in a 61-48 win.
“I think defensive intensity was better, some rotations and other things,” Greenville coach Mark Haist said. “Intensity makes up for a lot and puts pressure on the other team. So I thought we did a better job tonight and we are just trying to make progress.”
Reserve Ian Cooper was a force inside as he knocked down 10 points as the Yellow Jackets opened up an 18-4 first quarter lead. Cooper played heavy first half minutes after starter Greg Krusniak picked up two quick fouls.
“It took Cooper stepping up to get that start,” Haist said. “That is a big thing. There could have been a momentum swing with our big guy out. He stepped in and played the role without a drop-off.”
Belding outscored the Yellow Jackets 44-43 in the final three quarters, but the first quarter was enough for Greenville.
“I think after the first quarter our guys competed and executed the things we needed to do,” Belding coach Jeff Wierzbicki said. “After we made corrections, it was just battling back and not being able to get over the hump. We stayed within striking distance, but that first quarter hurt us.”
Belding senior Brendan Sutherland did all he could to get his team back in the game with a game-high 24 points. He scored 11 points in the second quarter as the Redskins trailed 30-22.
“Brendan is a captain for our team. He is a senior and has really matured in my eyes in the seven months I’ve been here,” Wierzbicki said. “I can look to him to help out the team in any aspect and today it was the most complete play I’ve seen from him in practice and these two games.”
Alex Karatkiewicz did the same for Greenville as they kept a comfortable lead on the Redksins. Karatkiewicz scored a team-high 18 points, all but two after the first quarter. He was also a force on the boards with 11 rebounds.
“He stepped up and made some great plays,” Haist said of Karatkiewicz. “He created some of his own shots. They (Belding) knew we were going inside so they sagged off and gave us some lanes to drive into. He took advantage of that.
“His rebounding was probably the best thing I saw tonight. It’s going to take more than our two big guys to grab rebounds this year,” he added.
Kole Hart added 11 points for the Redskins.
Belding (0-2) is still looking for its first win of the year, but Wierzbicki likes what he sees.
“I think after these two games with Portland and Greenville, I’m really proud of what I’ve seen so far,” Wierzbicki said.
For Haist, he wants to make sure his team brings this intensity every game, not just in a rivalry.
“This is a rivalry game, so the intensity is going to be there,” Haist said. “Now we have to do it in a game that’s not a rivalry game or a big conference game. We have to show that night in and night out.”
Cooper finished with 14 points and Curtis Heppe added 12 points and 10 assists.
Belding is at Grant on Tuesday, while Greenville will host Tri County.
GREENVILLE 61, BELDING 48
Greenville 18 12 20 11 — 61
Belding 4 18 16 10 — 48
GREENVILLE (1-1) — Heppe 6 0-0 12, Karatkiewicz 8 1-4 18, Syrjala 1 0-0 2, Roy 0 1-2 1, Nieto 3 1-1 8, Cooper 7 0-0 14, Krusniak 2 0-0 4, Reamer 1 0-0 2. Totals: 28 3-7 61. Three-point goals: Karatkiewicz, Nieto. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None.
BELDING (0-2) — Daller 1 3-3 5, Zuver 0 2-2 2, Price 0 0-0 0, Sutherland 8 5-7 24, Strotheide 2 1-3 6, Hart 5 0-0 11. Totals: 16 11-17 48. Three-point goals: Sutherland 3, Strotheide, Hart. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: Wilker.