- Rick Cassano Staff Writer
Tim Reed’s first victory as Talawanda High School’s head boys basketball coach will have to wait.
Fenwick came to town and punished the Braves 64-40 in season-opening play Friday night, leading from wire to wire after jumping out to a 7-0 advantage.
“We had a lot of energy coming in,” said junior forward C.J. Napier, who put up 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals for the winners. “Last year we lost to Edgewood (in the opener), and we just wanted to come out and set the tone for a good year.”
The Falcons didn’t have a great night shooting the ball from 3-point range (3 of 26) or the foul line (5 of 11), but they shot 56.8 percent on 2-pointers.
Veteran coach Pat Kreke has a deep, athletic team with a lot of slashers that can get to the rim. And Fenwick can play a little defense too, pressuring the Braves into 27 turnovers and 32.5-percent shooting.
“We had our jitters with our shooting and we’ve got some pretty good shooters, so that’s a little disappointing,” Kreke said. “The effort defensively I thought was there 90 percent of the time. I was very proud of the way they defended. I thought they stuck with our game plan real well.
“I think you’ll see a nice combination of us shooting from the 3-line and getting to the basket this season. I thought they played well together, which has been more than a few conversations this year. Sometimes we were selfish in our scrimmages, but I thought we were very unselfish with the basketball tonight.
“For the first game, I liked the intensity, and most of the time that will carry you a long way.”
David Luers marked 14 points for the visitors. Nick Braun had nine points and was the only Fenwick player to convert from beyond the arc, where he was 3 of 5. Caleb Davis scored eight points, while Jonathan Hoerlein added seven. Davis totaled six of the Falcons’ 19 steals.
Evan James paced Talawanda with 15 points, six boards and two steals.
“We’ve just got to get better in every phase,” said Reed, the Braves’ head baseball coach and a longtime basketball assistant at Hamilton. “The effort’s getting there, but you can’t be happy getting beat by 24 points. We’ve got to get better handling the ball, and we work on it every day.”
Josh DeWitt had nine points and 11 rebounds for Talawanda. Ty Hornsby, who’s working his way back from double pneumonia, chipped in eight points.
The Braves chopped a 17-4 deficit down to 24-16 late in the second quarter, but Fenwick scored the last five points of that period and opened the third stanza with a 16-3 surge.
“I think Pat’s got a pretty nice team,” Reed said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that can play, and my feeling is that’s better than having one superstar. We got a little tired because we don’t have a lot of subs. We’ve got to get in better shape if some kids are going to play that many minutes.”
Reed praised his varsity assistant, John Richter, and said the transition to the new coaching staff has gone well.
“We started late, so there’s a trust factor,” Reed said. “They’re learning us, we’re learning them, and hopefully we can find some buttons where we do a little better when we step on the court.”
“They’ve got nice size, and I love the James kid because he can do a lot of things,” Kreke said. “They’ll be all right. They’ve just got to get used to Coach Reed. That’s any coach at any level. There’s always a learning curve.”
This is Kreke’s 29th season at the Falcon helm, and he’s now 348-290. With Reed searching for his first varsity win, Kreke recalled his first year in 1989-90 and noted that his team got off to a 3-0 start before finishing 4-17.
“I thought it was an easy thing to do,” Kreke said. “I thought, ‘Why do these guys have so much trouble winning basketball games?’ Then I found out.”
Napier said Fenwick is focused on winning the Greater Catholic League Coed North Division title. The Falcons haven’t ruled the North since sharing the championship with Chaminade Julienne in 2013-14.
“We don’t want to give anything up, and we don’t want to lose anything that we shouldn’t,” Napier said.
Both teams will return to action Tuesday. Fenwick will host Edgewood, while Talawanda travels to Taylor.
FENWICK (1-0): Caleb Davis 3 2 8, Zach Lorei 2 0 4, C.J. Napier 7 0 14, David Luers 7 0 14, Michael Boon 1 0 2, Thomas Vogelsang 1 0 2, Nick Braun 3 0 9, A.J. Braun 2 0 4, Jonathan Hoerlein 2 3 7. Totals: 28-5-64
TALAWANDA (0-1): Evan James 6 2 15, Ryan Henes 0 2 2, Tommy Winkler 2 0 4, Ty Hornsby 1 6 8, Josh DeWitt 4 0 9, David Kraushar 0 1 1, Blake Bryan 0 1 1. Totals: 13-12-40
3-pointers: F 3 (N. Braun 3), T 2 (James, DeWitt)