If there are still lessons to be taught to the inexperienced Thunder Mountain boys' basketball team, then Saturday night's 76-56 loss certainly was a learning experience.
Sitka's Michael Matz hit four 3-pointers in a 16-point second-quarter outburst as the Wolves outscored the Falcons 25-10 in the period. A 13-point lead after the first period quickly ballooned to a 46-18 lead at halftime after the Sitka run.
"Matz was on fire," Falcons coach John Blasco said. "It definitely changed the momentum for them, and being such a young team it's hard to find guys who are able to control the game."
The Falcons had a difficult time dealing with Sitka's full-court pressure all weekend, and Blasco said the blame can't all be placed on inexperience.
"Our decision making has to be better," he said. "We're not the best ball handlers yet, we have to get better at that, but it's also the decisions we make - making the simple play versus making the exciting play that we're not able to make just yet."
Thunder Mountain has gotten off to a slow start in each of its first two games, scoring 10 points in the first two contests combined. The Falcons did improv their scoring in each quarter Saturday, but the Wolves were firing on all cylinders on this night.
Matz and Mik Potrzuski led the way for the Wolves will 19 apiece, and Luke Clayton was the only other Wolves player in double figures with 12 points. Matz scored 16 of his 19 points in the second quarter.
After two slow starts to the weekend's games, Blasco said it was a good sign his team continued to play hard throughout the Saturday's loss.
"At halftime we talked about the worst thing we could do was quit," Blasco said. "They didn't quit. Even though we got down 33 (points) at one point, they kept battling, shots started falling and they were hustling and scrapping for the ball.
"I'm very pleased with how we played the second half."
The Falcons scored 38 second-half points behind a surge from sophomores Keith Ainsworth and Ty Grussenforf, as well as freshman Matt Seymour. Seymour and Grussendorf each scored 12 points while Ainsworth contributed nine in the loss.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm early, especially the Falcons, who had more turnovers (7) than made baskets (4). With the score tied 4-4, the Wolves went on a 17-4 run to close the first quarter, overcoming six turnovers of their own.
Bae Widmier and Mik Potrzuski sparked the run in the first, combining for 15 of the team's 21 points.
One of the bright spots for Thunder Mountain came late in the third quarter when Matt Seymour, Keith Ainsworth and Ty Grussendorf hit 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions during a 12-3 run, but the Wolves' 26-point lead after three proved too much for the young Falcons to overcome.
Friday's game was a closer contest throughout, but the Falcons fell to the Wolves 68-54 in their season-opening game at Thunder Mountain High School.
TMHS put up only two points in the first quarter of the game as the Wolves led 11-2 after one and eventually pushed the lead to 19-8 in the second quarter. But the Falcons hung in the game, eventually getting as close as two points late in the second.
Still, Sitka's size was too much inside for the smaller Thunder Mountain, and the Wolves ran away with the game late in the third period and into the fourth.
Ainsworth and Grussendorf paced the Falcons with 13 apiece in the home and season opener on Friday night.
TMHS girls impress despite two losses
The Thunder Mountain girls' basketball team already looks like a better team this season, falling to Sitka 53-31 and 53-39 on Friday and Saturday night, respectively.
Sophomore Jonelle Staveland scored 23 points, including seven 3-pointers, in Saturday night's loss. Check Monday's Empire for recap.