As St. Johns ran back down the floor to play defense, St. Johns boys basketball coach Denny Baratono waved his arms, pointed and shouted to his players.
He wanted intense defense and pressure and said so in a boisterous manner every time the opponent brought the ball down the floor.
It’s rubbing off on his team, as the Redwings held their second consecutive league opponent to under 35 points in a 60-33 win over Owosso on Friday night.
“They know that’s what I ask. I think I transmit that somewhat well. I won’t tolerate lack of effort as you can tell,” Baratono said. “They produce like that in practice and guys that play hard in practice play hard in the game and the kids that come off the bench play hard too and I think that’s the key to the thing.”
“We practice so much more defense with so much more intensity,” junior forward Josh Hafner said after finishing with 10 points for the Redwings in the win. “Coach Baratono is on us an absolute ton and our last two practices the last hour and a half have been straight defense and we knew with their shooters that we had to stay on them tight and make sure they couldn’t get any shots off and I thought we did that really well. …
“He’s so passionate about it. You can tell that he really loves it and it rubs off on us and we love it too,” Hafner said.
A 6-0 run bumped a six-point St. Johns lead to 12 in the second quarter and forced an Owosso time out with 1:52 to play in the first half. Out of the timeout, the Redwings kept pouring it on with a basket and a foul from sophomore Austin Ervin to put St. Johns up 27-13.
After holding Owosso to 13 points in the first half, St. Johns started the second half on an 11-5 run. Hafner followed up a missed layup with a basket and then hit a three-pointer out of another time out.
Hafner started the fourth quarter with yet another three-pointer to give St. Johns a commanding 45-21 lead.
Jalen Weekley had 10 points, including three three-pointers for the Trojans.