Lakers, Sabers square off for title

Bear Lake’s Hannah Harrington (24) goes up for a shot while MCC’s Jordan Barnett defends on Feb. 9. The two teams meet again tonight. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate file photo)

BRETHREN — Around this time of the season, there’s a cliche that tends to pop up.

And, it certainly would apply to tonight’s Class D district championship game between Bear Lake and Manistee Catholic Central at Brethren where the Lakers will be looking to go 3-0 against the Sabers this season.

“It’s a cliche, but I’ve had teams beat me three times in a season,” Bear Lake coach Scott Brown said with a laugh after Wednesday’s district semifinal win against Frankfort.

MCC (13-9) is playing for back-to-back titles while Bear Lake (19-2) is looking for its first district crown since 1986. The winner of tonight’s game moves on to Traverse City West for a Class D regional semifinal at 6 p.m. on Tuesday against the winner of the Northport district.

Although the West Michigan D League champion Lakers beat the Sabers twice this season, neither was a one-sided game. Bear Lake won 50-45 on Jan. 6 and 58-53 on Feb. 9.

“It’s been close every game,” said Bear Lake sophomore center Emileigh Ferguson, “so you can’t be cocky about it.”

MCC, which rallied past Onekama in a quarterfinal on Monday and then cruised against Brethren on Wednesday, has won six of its last eight games.

“We’re definitely playing much better,” said MCC coach Todd Erickson. “It took us a while to get everybody to know their roles. It’s going pretty good right now. I’m real happy with where we’re at.”

Erickson said his team turned a corner with a win against Crossroads Charter Academy and kept it going with a close loss to Class B Shelby.

“You don’t want to peak early — I’ve had that happen in years passed,” he said. “We’re at the end of the year and we want the stuff to come together and it is.”

Brown said he’s preparing to see a team similar to Frankfort, just with less size and more outside shooting.

“They’re going to do just like Frankfort was trying to do, run a man-to-man, shut down my guards,” he said. “Hopefully, we execute a little better on the offensive end.”

Bear Lake’s zone defense was key in the win against the Panthers and will be at the forefront again tonight.

“We have to play like we did tonight — defense is definitely the key to the game,” Bear Lake freshman guard McKaya Groenwald said after beating the Panthers. “The shots will come later.”

 

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