By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
On Tuesday night, I was in the beautiful town of Ludlow to watch the Lions defend their home court against visiting Palmer.
Tonight was Palmer’s first game of the 2021 season 😳. Palmer got off to a slow start in the beginning of the 1st quarter. Once they found their stride, they never looked back and beat Ludlow, soundly, 61-49.
(Palmer Junior Jack Letendre)
After a few trips up-and-down the court for both teams in the opening minutes of the 1st quarter, Ludlow Senior Guard Ethan Schwartz broke the scoring “seal” with a layup. The paint domination by Palmer started after that basket. Palmer Forward Brady Staheleki powered a layup up and through the basket. He hit the “and-1” FT to put Palmer up 3-2.
(Ludlow Senior Ethan Schwartz goes in for a layup)
In the 1st, and in the entire game, Ludlow missed a lot of shots. They missed 3s; they missed layups; they missed contested shots in the lane. If they could have cashed in on some of those, there would have been a different outcome on Tuesday. Ludlow also had a tough time getting their defensive rebounds. Palmer was also missing shots but they were getting offensive rebounds and getting more FGAs and FTAs.
(FTA by N. Olivera)
The second quarter was more of the same. On just about every possession, Palmer got into the paint. Schwartz’s work in transition was the only thing keeping Ludlow in the game. He was active on defense and anticipatory playing the passing lanes. He got several deflections on Tuesday that led to fast-break opportunities for Ludlow.
Palmer led at half 32-27.
The second half script was the exact same as the first half script: Palmer punishes Ludlow in the lane; Ludlow misses make-able shots.
Palmer was up 10 at the end of the 3rd, 44-34.
Schwartz tried to keep his team close. In the beginning of the 4th quarter, he scored on back-to-back layups. The 2nd layup was scored by him first playing the passing lane, getting a deflection and then getting the ball to Ludlow’s basket for a layup. As previously mentioned, Ethan Schawartz is a Senior. This is the first time I saw him play. He is a good player and could help a team next year in college, if he decides to play past high school.
The player who stood out the most, to me, on Tuesday was Jack Letendre. Letendre is fiery and an aggressive competitor. He also has some nice skills to go along with the edge he plays with. He is pretty athletic. His jump-shot was off most of the night but he got to the rim whenever he wanted. He also crashed the offensive “glass” just about every chance he could. He is a Junior this season so next year should be big for him.
(Letendre attempts a 3-pter)
Despite Ludlow’s success in transition, they could never even the game and Palmer got their 1st win of the season 👏🏽.
Scorers for Palmer:
Jack Letendre - 22 points
Brady Staheleki & Jacob Maltalerz - 9 points each
Mike Ziemba - 7 points
K. Gladden & N. Olivera - 6 points
Anthony Ukraninets - 2 points
Scorers for Ludlow:
Ethan Schwartz - 26 points
Kyle Fontura & Matt Mendez - 5 points each
Will Hall - 4 points
Braeden Schwartz- 3 points
Anthony Bordeau, Nick Henry, Jack Serafino - 2 points each
After the game I spoke with both coaches:
🔵Palmer HC Ryan Minns⚪️
Thoughts on your offensive rebounding and paint work tonight.
“We did miss a lot of shots but we were lucky enough that guys were crashing the offensive glass and kinda tippin’ the ball to us. Just tried to get a lot of put-backs and extra opportunities.”
Can you tell us about Jack Letendre?
“Yea...he is our top scorer, he was the top scorer last year. He’s really aggressive so he is going to keep attacking the defense. He’s a pretty good shooter, he didn’t really shoot it that well tonight but he is actually a really, really good shooter.”
(Letendre attempts another 3)
What year is he?
What about #22?
“Brady [Staheleki]. This is actually his first game. Wasn’t a JV player last year. It was his first time playing. He kinda shocked me in tryouts how good he was and he’s just an active kid; he’s only a Sophomore. He’s kinda learning on the fly; he gives us good energy.”
Why was this your first game of the year?
“We started January 25th and then all the COVID stuff. We’ve only had probably 5 practices. We play 3 more times this week and 4 next week.”
🔴Ludlow HC Cliff Zimmer⚪️
Can you describe what happened at the end of the game?
“Yea...there’s parts in the game where we check out mentally so that’s been a big focus so far this season. A lot of times, we beat ourselves with silly turnovers and we get upset with ourselves and pick-up cheap fouls. We lost our focus there in the 2nd half and it showed. Give Palmer all the credit, they are a good team, they capitalized off it and they pulled away.”
Going forward, how can your team improve paint defense and defensive rebounding?
“Palmer was all over the offensive glass tonight and we just didn’t do a good job at all. We were just kinda turning and looking for the ball. Certainly we have to do a better job boxing out. We were in a 2-3 zone most of the game, in position to get those rebounds but Palmer just wanted it more. We will go back to practice tomorrow and work on boxing out some more...”
Tell us about Ethan Schawartz.
“He’s a Senior for us, one of our Captains, been part of the program for 4 years. Each year, he keeps getting better and better. He’s on of those guys that plays year-round and it’s really starting to show. He’s really hitting his stride, he [grew] a couple inches over the summer so he has been a guy on offense who we rely on a lot”.
You guys were cold tonight, did you get less practice or is it just a ‘make-or-miss HS League’?
“Yea it’s a ‘make-or-miss HS League’ and we just have to be better. We had a lot easy shots we just missed and couldn’t finish. We settled for a lot 3s. Again give Palmer credit...”
Great game by both teams on Tuesday.