Manistee tops Evart

MANISTEE — To say Andrew Solberg hadn’t stepped to the line this season in a pressure situation would be a bit of an understatement.

Having lost its first four games by an average of 35 points, neither Solberg nor any of his teammates had been asked to execute in the clutch.

But, with the Chippewas clinging to a close lead in the waning moments of overtime, Solberg didn’t flinch.

“Focus on the basket and not anything else,” the senior said of his thought process. “Just get it in.”

Solberg made all four of his free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds of the game to seal the win as Manistee beat Evart 50-42 in overtime for its first victory of the season.

“It feels great,” Solberg said. “To finally get that first one before Christmas is good to get.”

While the Chippewas (1-4) shot decent as a team from the line at 62 percent (23-for-37), the Wildcats (1-3) were sunk at the stripe by shooting just 34 percent (8-for-23).

“We have our moments,” said Evart coach Kris Morgan. “Last game we went 5-for-6. We’re getting to the line, we’re just not converting them.”

Nearly all the scoring in overtime came at the line with Manistee making 9 of 17 to outscore the Wildcats 11-3 in the extra four-minute session.

“We talked about how this was definitely a game we need to win,” said Manistee coach Scott Solberg. “Overall, I thought they kept their heads and made some free throws down the stretch.”

Solberg led the Chippewas with 18 points and chipped in eight rebounds and four steals while Jordan MacArthur finished with eight points and 16 rebounds.

Jonathon Hooker scored nine of his team-high 12 points in the first quarter to lead the Wildcats, but was saddled with foul trouble most of the game before picking up his fifth early in overtime. Jared Pattee, who scored 10, and Nate Struble, who finished with eight, also fouled out, leaving Evart short on scoring in key situations.

“That’s definitely over half our points gone from the team,” Morgan said. “We’ve just got to get the other guys to kind of step up. They’re running the offense all right, we just got to get them to score a little more.”

Manistee won the tip and took its first lead three seconds later on a Solberg layup, but Hooker scored all nine of his team’s points in the first quarter to knot the score.

“We had a few adjustments on offense,” Scott Solberg said. “We weren’t going to the block, we were going out to the corner and just taking ourselves right out and this was a team I thought we could score inside on. They didn’t have a really big presence in there.”

Dustin Simmons scored all seven of his points in the first half and Jared Knapp all of his six in the second quarter to stake the Chippewas to a 21-18 after Pattee hit a deep triple at the buzzer.

Hooker hit the bench with four fouls with 3:15 left in the second after picking up a personal and technical.

“He’s really been taking the ball to the hoop more lately and not settling for outside shots,” Morgan said of Hooker. “That really puts a damper on our scoring.”

The Chippewas tied their largest lead at six points midway through the third at 28-22 but Evart responded with a 7-0 run and knotted the score at 31 heading into the fourth.

Manistee had a chance to win the game in regulation but Levi Zimmerman’s shot was blocked by Kameron VanScoyco. Evart’s attempt also went awry when Hooker was whistled for carrying the ball with 2.6 seconds left and Solberg’s triple try from the corner at the buzzer didn’t go, sending the game to overtime.

MacArthur scored and was fouled for the first points of overtime and the Chippewas never trailed again, getting the rest of their points from the line. Manistee was 14-for-20 through the first four quarters but just 9-for-17 in overtime.

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