Morley Stanwood holds off Pine River rally to win season opener 65-53

Morley Stanwood sophomore Aiden McLaughlin was the catalyst for the Mohawks in Tuesday’s win over Pine River. (Pioneer photo/Maxwell Harden)

MORLEY — Aiden McLaughlin scored a career-high 22 points and added four steals in a 65-53 season-opening win over Pine River Tuesday at Morley Stanwood High School.

“It was nice to get the win,” head coach Bob Raven said. “But we’ve got a lot of things to work on and clean up. But we’ll take the win and come back ready to work tomorrow.”

“We have a really young group that’s new to the game this year,” Pine River head coach Brian Goodenow said. “In a lot of ways, it played out exactly how I thought it would.”

Tyler Dard added 10 points, eight rebounds, and three assists and Zack VanderPloeg added seven points and seven rebounds.

Sasha Huffman led Pine River with 19 points, including five 3-pointers.

The game was back-and-forth early on as both teams had early-season jitters. The Mohawks led 15-10 after one quarter and held on to a 30-27 lead at the half.

Morley Stanwood began the second half on a 7-0 run to go up 10 and led by as many as 14 points during the game. The Mohawks were able to out-rebound the Bucks despite having a size disadvantage.

Pine River didn’t give up and was able to claw back into the game thanks to the shooting of Huffman. An Elijah Lewis floater trimmed the Mohawks’ lead down to six midway through the fourth quarter.

“Sasha’s a baller,” Goodenow said. “I love that kid. He’s obviously young and inexperienced but he lives and breathes basketball. He’s going to contribute this year but he also made some youthful mistakes tonight.”

McLaughlin stepped up late for the Mohawks, scoring on a fast break layup to extend the lead to eight and scored while drawing a foul on the next offensive possession to get the lead back to double digits.

He would miss the free throw, but Dard was able to grab the miss and score on a put-back to push the lead back to 10.

“Aiden’s game is game is attacking you off the dribble,” Raven said. “We had them spaced out pretty well and he was able to attack the paint and get to the rim. We like to see him do that.”

Pine River was able to cut the lead back to seven late thanks to some Huffman threes, but a Carson Brauher layup to pushed it back to nine to put the game out of reach.

“They came out with jitters and made a lot of young mistakes in the first half,” Goodenow said. “They switched up the defense on us in the second half and my we didn’t adjust very well. It would have been easy for our guys to fold but we were able to get back in it and make it a game.”

Morley Stanwood (1-0) faces Hesperia at 7 p.m. Friday at Hesperia and Pine River (0-1) plays Beal City at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at Beal City. Both teams acknowledge there is work to be done.

“I thought we rotated the ball pretty well to get open shots,” McLaughlin said. “Of course we can do that better too. We did everything good enough, but we can always do better. We need to improve a lot defensively.”

“We’ll break down film, but I know we have to rebound better,” Goodenow said. “That’s one of the advantages we had tonight. We gave up lots of second chance opportunities. We have to learn to be more patient on offense.”

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