St. Cloud Apollo earned themselves an important win beating Delano 69-56 which is a crucial win for their program. Marquise Smith led the way.
- Defensive Gameplan/Defensive Effort. There were a lot of different bodies that switched on to Calvin Wishart and forced the ball out of his hands at times and forced Wishart into a 8 of 21 shooting day including 1 of 8 from the arc. Names include Renell Edwards, Marquise Smith, Jayden Lister, Michael Gravelle, and all the others that worked behind them to be a quality defense. Add in that they forced the ball out of Wishart’s hands several times and that often led to poor results for the Tigers. Not to mention Delano shot 1 of 17 from the arc as a team. Credit Coach Jason Allen for a fine job both motivating and maneuvering his squad.
- Marquise Smith. The Apollo senior had a day that he will not soon forget. We mentioned his part defensively but again, wonderful job on the defensive end. On the defensive glass it was Smith who pulled the most shots down after Delano missed long. That’s the effort play to get to the loose balls plus the six foot senior guard was active off the ball moving to spaces to score. Smith made all six of his foul shots and sunk seven of 11 shots most of which were at the rim. In all Smith is a senior that had the type of game that he will never forget and that could push his team to a nice run.
- The Sophomores. Coming into the year we’ve talked about the fact that Apollo has a nice core of 2020 players and today Logan Johnson, Michael Gravelle, and Deng Diew were the trio that made the impact. Diew’s low post play matched Delano senior Keegan O’Neil which was an important factor. Diew’s ability to use the pivot and get himself into a balanced position to touch in shots against an out of position defender was crucial. He had 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Johnson started next to Diew up front and while his numbers weren’t big, his effort was. He grabbed four boards and was a part of that chattering laterally active defense that moved to keep Wishart in front or without the ball. Then there was Gravelle who had five points, four boards, and four assists but his contribution was more about steady ball control offense, ball reversals, and steady defense. All three started and all three had a memorable night.
- Effort. Apollo simply cared more. They won the rebound battle 39-28 and in a modern day world of basketball where 35 to 40 percent of shots come at the arc, this Apollo team moved the ball for high percentage looks taking only 13 of their 52 shots at the arc. Apollo made 50 percent of their attempts to 33 percent for Apollo because they worked together better. And Delano, did you see them run a set or any type of controlled offense in the second half? Me neither. Apollo took them out of their rhythm completely.
- Environment. This was the perfect storm for Apollo. Nobody expected them to win at all but this was the first game after the Christmas break and it was played in front of a home crowd on Apollo’s floor in front of their fans at midday. Perfect combination for an upset.