Alter High School boys basketball coach Eric Coulter called his school’s rivalry with Badin “a war,” but even he had to admit that Friday night’s game looked more like a bludgeoning.
The Rams beat Alter 61-46 in Greater Catholic League Coed Division crossover play in front of another raucous home crowd at Mulcahey Gym. Badin got out front early and kept the Knights at a distance from the jump.
“(Badin) came out with a lot of energy,” Coulter said. “They were a lot to handle tonight.”
The Knights, who were playing their first game of the season, met a Badin team that had already handed decisive losses to Cincinnati Christian and Ponitz in the past week.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us tonight because they’d had two games that they won pretty easily,” Coulter said. “We’re young. We have no varsity experience. These guys are going to be a work in progress.”
Alter lost six seniors from last year’s team. Coulter started only one senior, Tate Harnett, in Friday’s opener. That’s compared to Badin, which started five seniors.
“Our intensity from the very start was good,” Rams coach Gerry Weisgerber said. “We got the ball out and ran on them in that first half and kind of got them tired.”
Badin dominated the first period, winning the stanza 17-6. It took Alter nearly six minutes to score its first points, coming on a badly needed 3 by Connor Bazelak, whose game-high 19 points were the lone offensive bright spot for the Knights.
The Rams’ victory was a true team effort. They had three players score in double figures, led by junior Joseph Walsh’s 13 points. Walsh was fluid in transition all night long, playing like anything but an ordinary average guy.
“We’re not a one-person (team) this year,” Weisgerber said. “We have so many kids that can get out there and do stuff for us. We can stay pretty fresh for a whole game.”
Five different Rams hit 3-pointers during the game. It was a stat that caught Coulter’s eye as the evening wore on.
“(Badin) had guys that shot the ball with a lot of confidence,” he said.
Badin’s defense also kept the young Knights frustrated, forcing 22 turnovers. Weisgerber said he was happy with his team’s defense until it came to rebounding, which he said “we’ve got to work on.”
After being down 36-15 in the third period, Alter showed some attitude and proved it wasn’t going to let the game go easily. The Knights went on a 13-0 run late in the third, which included scoring seven points in less than a minute.
It was impressive, but it wasn’t enough.
“When you dig yourself a hole against a well-coached team, it is hard to come back,” Coulter said. “It’s GCL on the road. You can’t relax. It’s a war.”
With 30 seconds left in the game and the Rams leading by 19, the Knights were still in full-court press mode, trying to force turnovers even as the Badin student section chanted, “This one’s over.”
“It was no contest tonight,” Coulter said. “It was all Badin.”
Despite his team’s perfect record and a string of impressive wins against quality opponents, Weisgerber said it’s not going to get any easier for his boys. Their next opponent is St. Xavier at home on Tuesday.
Alter hosts Thurgood Marshall on Saturday.
ALTER (0-1, 0-1 GCLC North): Nate Beerck 2 0 6, Dominic Ruffolo 1 0 2, Connor Meyer 0 1 1, Jack Smith 2 1 5, Connor Bazelak 7 1 19, Derrick Willits 3 3 9, Brady Uhl 1 0 2, Tate Harnett 1 0 2. Totals: 17-6-46
BADIN (3-0, 1-0 GCLC Central): Jakob Tipton 5 0 11, Joseph Walsh 6 1 13, Nathan Hegemann 2 0 5, Daunte DeCello 1 3 5, Kyle Young 3 1 8, Sam Mathews 1 2 5, Caleb Meyer 4 0 10, Zachary Switzer 2 0 4. Totals: 24-7-61
3-pointers: A 6 (Bazelak 4, Beerck 2), B 6 (Meyer 2, Tipton, Hegemann, Young, Mathews)