2018-01-11 / Sports

Bulldogs win their first game, beat rival Vikings by 45 points

By: Mike Gallagher
Sports Reporter - mgallagher@mihomepaper.com


Owen-Gage’s Luke Retford battles for position for a rebound with Akron- Fairgrove’s Dalton Gucwa. Retford finished the game with a game-high 22 rebounds and 10 points. 
Photo by Mike Gallagher Owen-Gage’s Luke Retford battles for position for a rebound with Akron- Fairgrove’s Dalton Gucwa. Retford finished the game with a game-high 22 rebounds and 10 points. Photo by Mike Gallagher OWENDALE - The first win of the 2017-18 season was something that had eluded the Owen-Gage boys basketball team through the first four weeks of the season. That changed on Monday night as they earned their first victory of the season in dominating fashion, defeating rival Akron-Fairgrove, 77-32.

“It was great,” said Bulldogs head coach Brian Wright. “They all played together as a team and everybody did what they needed to do. The seniors stepped up and had a good game, and the juniors stepped up and had a good game.”

Owen-Gage set the tone early, as they ran out to a 15-6 lead after the first quarter, sparked by some easy baskets off of Akron-Fairgrove turnovers.

“We like to switch defenses,” Wright said. “We usually run two or three different defenses until we decide what works best on the other team and then we’ll settle on one.”

That strategy proved effective, as the Bulldogs forced eight first-quarter turnovers.

Akron-Fairgrove scored the first bucket of the second quarter, but after that Owen-Gage went on a 12-0 run, to extend their lead to 27-8.

At the half, Bulldog center Brandon Binder had already reached double figures, as he had 14 points.

The Vikings started off the third quarter somewhat strongly, as they scored four of the quarter’s first six points, but a 6-0 scoring run by Owen-Gage’s Matt Fritz swung the momentum back in the Bulldogs favor.

By the end of the third quarter, Owen-Gage would be leading by 27 points, 55-28.

Once again the Vikings started off the fourth quarter with the momentum, as they scored the quarter’s first four points, but that would be the only points they would score for the remainder of the game, as the Bulldogs would go on a 22-0 scoring run to end the contest, giving them their first win of the season.

“The first one is hard to get, but once you get that first one, the second and third become easier and easier,” said Wright. “We have more of a chance going forward now. Once they get that first win out of the way, they believe they can do it, and can hopefully continue that success.”

Binder led the Bulldogs with 24 points, a season-high.

“He’s getting better and better as a big man,” said Wright. “He’s still timid sometimes, but he’s improving and trying to fill his brother’s shoes.”

Brandon’s brother David was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer last season, averaging 19.4 points per game.

Binder was one of four Bulldogs who scored in double-figures, as Fritz scored 14 and had seven assists, Aaron Fahrner scored 13, and Luke Retford scored 10 and grabbed 22 rebounds. Carl Steff added eight points.

“It’s an offense where the open person shoots, and that’s how any offense should be,” Wright said. “That’s just the fundamentals that we’ve been trying to teach, get it to the open guy, and the open guy shoots.”

Seven of the eight Bulldogs on the roster scored in the victory.

The win was not only Owen-Gage’s first overall of the season but also their first conference win of the season, as they joined Peck (6-1) and Bay City All Saints (1-5) who also won their conference openers Monday night.

“A win’s a win, but we’ve got to keep improving,” said Wright.

Owen-Gage (1-0, 1-4) will continue conference play on Friday night when they host Bay City All Saints (1-0, 1-5).

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