Like any head basketball coach, Keith Kurowski has certainly tailored his schemes to play to his teams’ strengths throughout 14 years leading different high school programs. One of the common threads, however, has always been a determination to play disruptive defense.
In his current stint guiding the Sturgis boys team, which left Marshall Monday with a 49-38 victory, he hasn’t deviated from that tenet.
“I think we only gave up 48 points [per game that year],” Kurowski, a former Notre Dame player, said of his first year coaching at Mishawaka (Ind.) Marian. “Here I am in year 14 still trying to hang my hat on keeping teams to under 50 points, especially this year.
“We’re not an offensive juggernaut; we’re not going to score in the 60s or 70s, so it really has to ring true this year with this group. This group has bought into my defensive philosophy.
Marshall (3-9) entered the game averaging 52 points per game and featured two dynamic sophomore shooters in Jacob Brubaker and Christopher Thomas.
Brubaker unloaded 30 points in an eight-point loss to league power Battle Creek Central and Thomas poured in 21 against fellow league power Harper Creek — a nine-point loss.
The Trojans held Brubraker to 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting Monday and shut down Thomas completely to improve to 7-5 overall and 3-5 in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference. Marshall was 13-of-47 shooting from the field and 5-of-20 from deep.
Even with a variety of unconventional zone looks thrown their way, Chance Stewart registered 18 points and Jack Scheske posted 14 for Sturgis, which shot at a 48.4-percent clip (15-of-31) from the field.
Sturgis outscored the Redhawks 16-7 at the stripe and won the rebounding battle 25-20. Stewart led the team with nine rebounds and Scheske followed with four.
The Trojans are now 7-0 when holding teams to fewer than 50 points. They’re 0-5 when opponents hit 50 or higher.
“Our major thing was getting out and contesting the 3-point shot,” Kurowski said. “We really did a nice job extending our defense, not giving them open looks and forcing them into contested shots. Just credit the boys; we played a really tough, switching, man-to-man defense tonight.
After a 10-point loss to Gull Lake last Friday, Kurowski had a feeling his team would come out fired up.
“Our guys just responded and worked hard this weekend after that loss to Gull Lake,” he said. “We were in Saturday and Sunday and really prepared hard. Guys just came out with a sense of urgency tonight and just really focused and concentrated in every aspect of the game.”
Tristen Stewart finished with two points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal, Andrew Airgood pitched in five points, four boards and a block, Nick Rehm added two points and a rebounds, Matt Polzin had two points and a rebound and Ryan Schuller added six points and three rebounds.
Sturgis hosts rival Coldwater Friday on Fan Appreciate Night, when admission will be only $1.