American Heritage finding identity with Z-Wade injured

Masai Olowokere scored 25 points in the win

Coming off a blowout loss without Zaire Wade, the American Heritage Patriots again faced the challenge of looking for an offensive identity without the junior superstar. Unlike the blowout loss to Stranahan, the Patriots found it in a 75-39 win over the Palmer Trinity Falcons.

Senior Masai Olowokere led American Heritage with 25 points, including five of the team’s 12 3-pointers on the night. The barrage of long range shooting put Palmer in a hole early and sunk the Falcons in the third quarter.

In that quarter, Olowokere outscored the Falcons nine to three. The only blemish for the senior came on a missed breakaway dunk which caused some jeers from the Patriot bench.

“That happens to the best of us,” laughed Olowokere. “I won’t do that again. It was a good game all-around. I was finally able to get my shot going and kept it rolling for the whole game.” It felt good to have it tonight.”

Palmer’s first point of the third quarter came on a lone free throw with 4:04 remaining. The team’s only field goal came with 3:24 remaining.  In those eight minutes, American Heritage turned a 40-27 halftime lead to a 65-30 advantage on a 19-1 run. The offensive onslaught forced a running clock heading into the fourth quarter.

While the long range shooting was clicking on all cylinders, it was not American Heritage’s entire repertoire. Freshman Darius Tinger manned the inside post, scoring eight of his 12 points in the first quarter.

Tinger’s aggressiveness early gave American Heritage a 14-5 lead after one. With the offensive role of Wade on the bench, Tinger’s effort came at an opportune time after the 31-point loss to Stranahan.

For Palmer, points were at a premium all night. Sophomore Isaiah Thomas and senior John-Paul Arrien finished with 12 points each.

For American Heritage, seven scorers found their way into the box score. Junior Andrew Volmar finished with 18 points, including three 3-pointers.

“We came out and hit some three’s early to set the tone,” said head coach Fred Battle. “My goal again for them is try to hit at least ten a game. If we do that and play good defense, we will be in every game. The nights where we don’t shoot and play good defense we are going to struggle. Tonight was one of those nights where pretty much everyone was feeling it from the outside.“

The Patriots might need that outside shooting moving forward. All signs point to Wade being out for the rest of the season with a lower body injury, according to Battle.

“He is probably done. It’s more so a decision by his dad and family. They want to shut it down and not risk anything. It was already hurt and he just kept tweaking it from trying to play on it,” Battle said. “They want to let him treat it. When he finally gets one-hundred percent cleared they are going to let him play, but by that time we will be done with our season.

“He has been playing with it is since January 5th when he hurt it in Naples. We had a tough game against Archbishop and he played with it in that game. He has been trying to pick times with it to play but at the same time it wasn’t getting better. When he went to the doctor the night before we played Stranahan, they advised him not to play.”

Michael Costeines is a contributor for Mars Reel based in South Florida