BY KEVIN WANNEMACHER
Times Bulletin Correspondent
HOLGATE - Senior point guard Grady Gudakunst scored a dozen of his game high 15 points in the second half to lead the Wayne Trace Raiders to a key 39-29 victory over Holgate in Green Meadows Conference action Thursday night.
After being limited to three points in the opening half, Gudakunst hit a pair of treys in the third quarter and added a six point fourth quarter to push Wayne Trace to its seventh straight victory of the season. The Raiders are now 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the league, remaining tied with co-league leader Edgerton (10-1, 2-0).
Gudakunst also picked up three rebounds and a steal in the contest, but it was far from a one person effort that lifted Wayne Trace to the win.
The Raiders got solid efforts from everybody who played. Senior Nick McClain added eight markers and a pair of boards with senior guard Dalton Sinn chipping in seven points, all of which came in the second half.
Junior guard Colby Speice recorded five points and led the team with six rebounds and sophomore Corbin Linder posted four points and three boards.
All in all, it was a total team effort for the red-white-and-blue.
"I am so proud of these kids," noted Raider head coach Jim Linder. "You know coming in here it is going to be a battle and it was definitely that. Both teams played their hearts out and each played great defense. But our kids fought and kept battling all night long and we were able to pull it out. I am just so proud of this team right now, especially these seniors. They have worked so hard and this is a big win for us."
Early on, the Raiders did exactly what they wanted to do and jumped on top quickly.
A pair of McClain foul shots got the Raiders on the scoreboard before Holgate's Mitchell Gonzales answered with a pair of charity tosses.
However, a Linder bucket followed by a Gudakunst trey and a McClain basket quickly put the Raiders on top 9-2.
After a Holgate timeout, the Tigers responded. Consecutive buckets from Jake Aelker and Gonzales offset a Linder basket with Wayne Trace holding an 11-6 advantage after one quarter.
"We got off to the start we wanted," Linder continued. "Paul (Wayne) does a great job with his kids and they responded there in the second quarter. But I thought we were able to do a lot of positives tonight."
The Tigers made only four shots in the second stanza, all treys. Landon Grim hit a pair of long distance shots for Holgate with Gonzales and A.J. Kelly adding a three-pointer each as the purple and gold grabbed an 18-15 lead at the intermission.
Wayne Trace tied the contest early in the third on a Gudakunst trey at 20-20, before the senior guard connected on a three-pointer on the ensuing possession for a 23-22 lead.
Gonzales answered for Holgate, scoring a basket and adding two free throws to help the Tigers grab a 26-25 lead at the end of three quarters.
"This group has really started to develop and they are doing a much better job of staying focused," noted the Raider mentor. "Earlier in the year, we didn't always do a good job of that but that is something that they have really improved on."
Gudakunst opened the fourth quarter scoring with a pair of free throws that put Wayne Trace on top for good. A McClain basket off of a Linder assist pushed the margin to 29-26 and the Raiders wouldn't look back.
Holgate, which falls to 5-7 overall and 1-1 in the league, trimmed the deficit to 29-28 on a Grim bucket but the hosts would get no closer.
With the Raiders leading 30-29, Sinn scored to make it 32-29 and added two foul shots on the next possession for a 34-29 advantage.
After a Tiger miss and foul, Gudakunst missed the front end of a one-and-one but picked up the offensive rebound and scored to virtually seal the victory. The senior guard would go on to add two more free throws and Sinn picked up one to set the final margin at 39-29.
"It's a big league win on the road," concluded Linder. "It's a tough place to play and Holgate is a good basketball team. But we have to come back and be ready to go for Saturday and next week in league play."
Gonzales paced the Tigers with 14 points while Grim added eight. Gonzales also recorded seven rebounds while Sean Mack picked up five.
Wayne Trace committed only six turnovers in the contest while the Tigers had ten. The Raiders won the battle of the boards, 21-19.
Holgate's junior varsity recorded a 22-20 win over the Raiders as Everett Klingshirn connected on two free throws with ten seconds left in regulation.
T.J. Blackmore paced Wayne Trace with five points followed by Brock Worden and Gabe Wobler with four each.
Wayne Trace returns to non-league action on Saturday as the Raiders travel to Jefferson Middle School to battle Delphos Jefferson.