The Auburndale boys basketball team knew it would need a focused and determined effort to defeat Marathon on its home court Friday, as both teams entered play boasting undefeated records.
Not only did Auburndale get a victory, it made a statement, baffling the Raiders and quieting a rowdy crowd en route to a 55-19 Marawood Conference South Division win. With the win, Auburndale takes sole possession of first place in the conference at 6-0 and drops Marathon to 5-1, but proved it is the team to beat in the Marawood South.
“The kids were so focused tonight and played with a focused emotion,” Auburndale coach Chad Weinfurter said. “The kids were ready to play, but before the game, I told them, ‘Let’s not make this bigger than what it is. Yes, it’s a big game, but it is just one game. We don’t get three wins or three losses.’
“Our rotations defensively were good all night,” Weinfurter added. “We rebounded well and that was a key, because they have such great athletes and Collin (Seubert) is a really good player and Tom Sabel and Isaac Castellano played great defense on him.”
Seubert entered play averaging nearly 20 points per game, but Auburndale shut him down — and the entire Marathon offense for that matter — from the opening tip. Seubert shot just 2 for 10 from the field and Vince Dinkel made just one field goal.
“Defensively, they took us out of everything we wanted to do,” Marathon coach Adam Jacobson said. “They pressured us and made us work for everything. That pressure caused us to put the ball down and miss cutters.”
Early on, Auburndale star Austin Hawkins’ offense was limited, but the role players opened things up and took the crowd out of the game early.
Matt Nikolay and Blake Anderson each sank two 3-pointers in the first half and fellow post player Ben Bolder added eight of his 12 points in the opening 16 minutes.
“Austin is going to get his points every night,” Bolder said. “As role players, we just all wanted to step up and help him out and we did that.”
Hawkins finished with 15 points, as Auburndale rode its early emotion to a dominant first half, using a 14-4 second quarter, taking a 32-11 stranglehold into intermission.
“We talk about mental toughness every day,” Hawkins said. “We showed that we are mentally tough, this was a good team and they were fired up, but we doubled there emotion. To put up such a strong first half was big to put the pressure on them. We did it with our defense and we take a lot of pride in (our defense).”
Marathon did its job in slowing Hawkins down, but the role players’ output was too much to overcome.
“We wanted them to beat us from the outside, but they had us chasing all night with their ball movement,” Jacobson said. “When we doubled-down on Hawkins, they kicked it out, made the extra pass and give them credit, they knocked down the shots.
While Auburndale will get just one win in the standings, the coach said it certainly felt like more with such a strong showing.
“Our kids were ready for the challenge and really played with great intensity,” Weinfurter said. “Some teams get to emotional and are too amped up, but tonight our guys just knew they had a great challenge in front of them, and they responded.”
AUBURNDALE (55): Tom Sabel 1, Blake Anderson 10, Ben Bolder 12, Zach Staats 7, Austin Hawkins 15, Matt Nikolay 10.
MARATHON (19): Collin Seubert 4, Vince Dinkel 2, Jake Dinkel 2, Ross Wokatsch 2, Matt Haehlke 2, Ethan Seubert 6, Alex Stanek 1.
3-pointers: Auburndale 4, (Nikolay 2, Anderson 2); Marathon none.
Records: Auburndale 7-0, 6-0 Marawood South; Marathon 8-1, 5-1 Marawood South.