If this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Okemos, somebody forgot to tell the Chiefs.
Okemos won 58-47 at Lansing Catholic on Tuesday to improve to 3-0.
“We have a new coach and we all didn’t play much last year, so it definitely feels really good,” said senior Austin Mashburn.
The Chiefs lost last year’s starting five to graduation and their 17-year coach Dan Stolz to retirement, but have not lost a beat with a revamped roster and new coach Jeff Wonch at the helm.
The road win over CAAC White favorite Lansing Catholic (2-1) is part of a hot start that Wonch isn’t surprised by.
“I knew they were a bunch of competitive guys,” Wonch said. “I figured there would be a lot of close games that could go either way and right now they are going our way.”
Okemos took control of the game with a 14-0 run that carried over from the first to the second quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers by seniors Nathan Janick and Mashburn helped the Chiefs build their first half lead to as high as nine points.
“We moved the ball and found our shooters,” Wonch said. “They stepped up with confidence and knocked shots down.”
A 3-pointer from Mashburn with five seconds left capped off the first half and gave Okemos a 27-19 lead.
In the second half, Lansing Catholic never seemed to get the defensive stop or basket it needed. The Cougars longest scoring run of the game was five points.
“We couldn’t get back over the hump,” said Lansing Catholic coach Darren Zwick. “I thought we hung around but didn’t do enough on the defensive side.”
Okemos was able to disrupt the Cougars’ zone defense by hitting six 3-pointers in the game, including four from Mashburn, who finished with a team-high 15 points.
With the Chiefs’ sharp shooters, Mashburn was surprised that Lansing Catholic stuck with its zone defense throughout the game.
“I think I would have switched to man and tried something different, but they kept with it, and we took advantage of it,” Mashburn said.
In defeat, the Cougars received a strong effort from senior Dillon Rush, who finished with 21 points and six assists. He scored nine points in the fourth quarter.
Lansing Catholic will host Corunna on Friday, while Okemos will be at home against Grand Ledge.