Strasburg-Zeeland broke in a new 1-3-1 defense Tuesday at the Jamestown Civic Center, which caused Medina/Pingree-Buchanan fits for a half of basketball.
Mac Kramer and Jordan Huizenga combined to produce four of the Clippers' seven first-half steals, as Strasburg-Zeeland led 30-21 at the half and ultimately defeated the Thunder 60-54 in the annual Class B Linton/HMB Jamboree. MPB turned the ball over 13 times in the first half and trailed by as many as 14, which was too much for the Thunder to overcome after the break.
"We haven't faced a lot of zone this year," said MPB boys basketball coach Bob Young. "When we have ... we've hit shots and they've gotten right out of it.
"To our kids' credit, it did take them a little while but eventually they broke it. So we can look at this as a positive because last year we struggled with this team a couple of times."
The Thunder never led but were able to cut the deficit to four after three quarters (43-39), and by three with under a minute to play (57-54), behind a barrage of 3-pointers. Senior Aaron Huff buried five 3s and finished scoring 17 points, while senior Michael Thomas connected from long range four times and scored 18.
Seven of the Thunders' 13 second-half field goals were from beyond the arc, with eighth-grade starter Rylen Wick and freshman starter Josh Moser getting in on the act.
"We have a lot of kids who can shoot, especially in our starting lineup," Young said. "We feel like we're a team that if you want to zone or give us space, we can cause you some problems."
A Moser 3-pointer closed the gap to three points with 28 seconds remaining, but the Clippers iced the game by hitting 3 of 4 bonus shots at the free-throw line. The Thunder didn't attempt a foul shot over the entire 32 minutes.
"That seems to be a problem with us way too often," Young said. "We didn't get to spaces where we could draw fouls. Hopefully, we improve on that because we can shoot."
The Clippers shot 46% from the field in the game (23 of 50). Jake Wagner (18 points), Huizenga (16) and Kramer (12) all reached double figures.
"We're mainly a defensive team, that's what we try every game to execute and offense comes with the flow," Kramer said.
The Clippers improved to 7-3 overall. Strasburg-Zeeland played to a record of 14-9 last season, falling to eventual Region 3 champion Ellendale in the opening round of the regional.
"Our plan (Tuesday) was trying new defenses and see what works and what doesn't," Kramer said. "Our goal is state. That's all we have."
The Thunder fell to 3-6, but after last winter's 0-20 campaign MPB is a team that cannot be overlooked.
"That was one of our goals as a group this year, was to compete every single game," Young said. "We improved all throughout last year. We didn't leave with a win, but we feel we're going to do the same thing this year and improve all throughout the season."
Strasburg/Zeeland 60, Medina/Pingree-Buchanan 54
SZ 17 13 13 17 -- 60
MPB 9 12 18 15 -- 54
SZ -- Jake Wagner 18, Jordan Huizenga 16, Mac Kramer 12, Jesse Rohrich 6, Josh Lauinger 4, Jesse Rohrich 2, Max Vander Vorste 2. Totals: 23-50 FG, 4-15 3-pointers (Wagner 2, Kramer, Huizenga), 10-14 FT, 29 Rebounds, 9 Steals, 11 Turnovers, 8 Fouls.
MPB -- Mike Thomas 18, Aaron Huff 17, Josh Moser 7, Rylen Wick 6, Alec Horn 6. Totals: 21-53 FG, 12-30 3-pointers (Huff 5, Thomas 4, Wick 2, Moser), 0-0 FT, 28 Rebounds, 7 Steals, 18 Turnovers, 11 Fouls.
Records: Strasburg/Zeeland 7-3. Medina/PB 3-6.