NEW BREMEN — Anna and New Bremen each got off to a strong start in nonconference games on Friday. A Saturday matchup between the two showed they’re in different places early in the season.
New Bremen looks to be picking up from right where it left off during a Division IV regional final run last year. The Cardinals, which have five players that started in at least a few games last year, overcame early problems and ran away to beat the Rockets 83-57.
New Bremen (2-0) was able to take advantage in the post on Saturday. The Cardinals had a 33-23 rebounding advantage and scored on drives throughout the game.
“They came out with the mindset and will power, and they beat us in every position on the court,” Anna coach Nate Barhorst said. “I think it comes down to intensity, it comes down to having heart, it comes down to overcoming adversity. We did not handle any kind of adversity well at all tonight.
“We just had a discussion in the locker room that we’re just going to have to find a way and dig down deep to somehow overcome it. I understand it’s early in the season and you can’t think the world’s coming to an end. But we’re going to have to have one hell of a week of practice to get ourselves going again.”
The Rockets, which beat New Knoxville 83-41 on Friday, have two returning lettermen in senior guards McKane Finkenbine and Zach Ambos. Finekenbine averaged 16.6 points, 7.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds and three steals per game last season. He was a first team all-Shelby County Athletic League selection.
Finkenbine led Anna (1-1) with 16 points on Saturday while Ambos added 12.
“They’ve provided us leadership,” Barhorst said. “We have to have other guys step up and contribute. Teams are going to see this, and they’re going to key in on them. So we have to have other guys that are going to be able to score and finish, as well as get us defensive stops.”
Senior guard Bryce Cobb, junior forward Chase Murray and 6-foot-4 senior center Grant Albers rounded out Anna’s starting lineup on Saturday. Among other players who saw playing time on Saturday were junior forward Hayden Huelskamp and junior guard Drew Doseck, who scored nine and six points, respectively.
“There were a couple guys that had moments that really gave us a boost,” Barhorst said. “Hayden Huelskamp really plays his rear end off. Chase goes out there and does what he hopes we can do, and Grant Albers is getting back into things. This is his first year coming back, and we need his size down low.
“We know these guys haven’t played together very long. We had two scrimmages, and this was our second game. But we can’t use that as an excuse from here on out. We’ve got to come ready to play.”
The Cardinals are loaded with returnees off last season’s 19-9 squad, which lost to Columbus Grove in a regional final. They lost three players to graduation and have five lettermen back.
Senior guard Reece Busse (6-4) averaged 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Junior guard David Homan (6-2) averaged 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Also returning are senior guard Nick Alig, senior guard Trevor Bergman and senior post Nathan Rindler (6-6), as well as several players who saw time off the bench.
“Out of the five (lettermen) back, at some point, all of them started last year,” New Bremen coach Cory Stephens said. “They got a lot of varsity experience last year and the year before. Some of them are three-year lettermen.”
The Cardinals had balanced scoring in a 63-43 win over Ottoville on Friday and did again on Saturday.
Busse led New Bremen with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Alig scored 17 points and Rindler and Homan each scored 12.
Homan had three steals while Alig and Rindler each had two. The Rockets finished with 14 turnovers while New Bremen had eight.
“We have a lot of balanced scoring, and it starts on the defensive end,” Stephens said. “I think we’re taking care of the defensive end, and then we’re able to go into transition because of being able to take care of the defensive end.”
Anna scored the first 10 points on Saturday, but New Bremen scored the next 18, the last nine of which came on 3-pointers by Alig.
“We called a timeout (after they scored the first 10) and we talked about how we took a punch, and now it’s time to weather the storm,” Stephens said. “They threw a storm at us at first. It was one of things where we had to calm down and play.
“… Nick was big there. He hits shots, and defensively he flies around, guards on the perimeter and rebounds.”
New Bremen led 24-17 at the end of the first quarter and kept extending its lead. The Cardinals outscored Anna 22-13 in the second quarter and 26-15 in the third. Each team scored 11 in the fourth.
New Bremen shot 32 for 56 (57 percent) from the floor, including 10 for 22 (45 percent) from 3-point range. Anna shot 18 for 45 (40 percent) from the floor and 5 for 21 (24 percent) from 3-point range.
The Cardinals are scheduled to travel to Celina on Friday while Anna is scheduled to open SCAL play by hosting Botkins.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.