STANWOOD — The Stanwood boys basketball team has borrowed a phrase from the local NFL team: Next man up.
And like the Seahawks, the Spartans are rolling.
Despite missing guard Ian Zipp, who injured his Achilles tendon in Thursday’s win over Oak Harbor, replacements Karsten Chaplik and AJ Martinka filled in admirably as the Spartans beat 4A power Union 65-59 at Stanwood H.S. on Friday night and improved to 5-0 on the season.
“We have a phrase: Next man up,” said Stanwood head coach Zach Ward. “These guys’ mental toughness is amazing only four games into the season.”
Love coaching these guys. The ‘next man up’ mentality is amazing. Great contributions every night. – despite adversity.
— Zach Ward (@DialedIn24_7) December 14, 2013
After some sloppy play in the third quarter allowed Union to take a one-point lead going into the final quarter, Stanwood turned on the defensive pressure led by Martinka. The freshman guard, along with senior guard Josh Thayer and Brady Garcea, spearheaded a tough full-court trapping defense that forced the Titans into three straight turnovers to start the quarter. Fueled by the strong defense, Stanwood went on a 8-0 run and never looked back.
“We felt like we needed to change the flow of the game. They were getting too comfortable on offense and they were really moving the ball well and beating us,” Ward said of the defensive change after the third quarter. “We thought ‘Let’s just change and try something else.’ And AJ Martinka goes in there and changes the game. Freshman going in there and running the point and he caused turnovers. That’s really unique for us to be able to do that so that’s pretty cool.”
A pair of baskets by Riley Hawken helped Union battle back to 59-55 with less than two minutes to play, but Stanwood turned to 6-foot-8 post Drew Stang to stop the Titans’ run. Stang, who finished with a game-high 25 points and was a thorn in Union’s side all night, scored on a nice post move to extend the lead to 61-55 and all but seal the game.
“There’s no doubt we wanted to get him the ball a lot tonight,” Ward said of Stang, who was also a force on the defensive end with six blocks. “I think he’s a tough matchup and he’s a kid playing very aggressive right now. I think (playing without Ian) he knew there was a little more on him. He was very aware he was going to get more touches.”
Chaplik was strong in his first game of the season after missing the first four games with an injury. The junior wing, who started in place of Zipp, scored four points, including a big 3-pointer early in the game, and was key part of Stanwood’s ability to break Union’s full-court pressing defense.
Stanwood trailed after the first quarter, but got hot in the second. The Spartans shot 7-for-13 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers from Brady Garcea, to outscore Union 17-9 in the quarter and take a five-point halftime lead.
The win was a big confidence boost for Stanwood. Having lost to Union by seven points in Vancouver a year ago, the Spartans were able to prove they can play with state-caliber competition not only on the 3A level but the 4A level as well.
“We knew this was a real tough test tonight,” Ward said. “That’s a great program, state champship just three years ago. For them to come in here and have us beat them. For the third straight game this week, we were able to handle the game really well and do what we wanted to.”
At Stanwood H.S.
Union 17 9 15 17 — 59
Stanwood 15 17 9 24 — 65
Union—Micah Paulson 17, Skillful Davis 11, Austin Brown 0, Derrick Derryberry 0, Riley Hawken 19, Isaiah Robinson 6, Cameron Cranston 4, Spencer Martin 2. Stanwood—AJ Martinka 2, Josh Thayer 20, Drew Wright 2, Brady Garcea 12, Karsten Chaplik 4, Drew Stang 25, Skout Roberson 0. 3-point goals—Thayer 4, Garcea 3, Paulson 3, Hawken. Records—Union 2-1 overall. Stanwood 5-0.