By BURT ANGELI
FLORENCE, Wis. - Niagara hopes a defensive toughness that took out Florence carries over to the next game.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
Niagara’s Jordan Zawada drives to the basket on Florence’s Jon Ouradnik (5) and Lucas Gareau (15) in Monday’s non-conference basketball game.
The Badgers, with a balanced offense and relentless defense, rocked Florence 72-32 in non-conference boys basketball Monday.
"I really like our defensive intensity," Badgers coach Jim Hoogland said. "We were on the floor diving around. We were going after every loose ball and we seemed to get most of those 50-50 balls."
Niagara built a 14-4 lead in the first quarter and expanded the margin to 36-14 at halftime.
"Everything," responded Bobcats coach Tom Beck when asked what impressed him about the Badgers. "They shoot pretty well and they come at you. They play so hard defensively."
Niagara wound up with 12 steals.
As for scoring, Jordan Zawada and Zach Walker each collected 14 points and Joey Swanson added 11. Colin Anderson, Zach Zychowski and Jacob Oratch each chipped in nine.
"Shooting is shooting," Hoogland said. "We could have shot better but that comes and goes."
The Badgers coach also wanted to see better ball handling.
"We have to take care of the all on the offensive side," Hoogland said. "We had too many turnovers against relatively easy pressure."
Kyle Trudell topped the Bobcats with nine points.
Niagara (12-6) travels to Wausaukee on Thursday, with a Division 5 regional No. 1 seed on the line. The Badgers are shooting for a season sweep of the Rangers.
"Wausaukee is a well balanced team and they play great half court defense," Hoogland said. "They're a scrappy bunch.
"They don't have any outstanding offensive players but three or four very good offensive players."
Florence (2-12) hosts Three Lakes on Friday.
Florence nipped Niagara 41-40 in the junior varsity game.
Niagara 14 22 15 21 - 72
Florence 4 10 6 12 - 32
NIAGARA: Walker 14, Swanson 11, Liebergen 4, Anderson 9, Pultz 2, Zychowski 9, Oratch 9, Zawada 14. FT: 14-17. F: 10.
F: Oradnik 6, Kelly 2, Garcia 1, Herman 4, Flores 6, Trudell 9, Bomberg 4. FT: 4-5. F: 17.
3-point FG: Swanson 3, Zychowski, Zawada 2. FG shooting: Niagara 26-60, Florence 14-41. Rebounding: Niagara 39, Florence 18.