PREP BASKETBALL: Bobcats host Lakers for full Saturday

Brethren will be bustling with basketball Saturday as the Bobcats play host to Bear Lake for a full slate of games, capped with a girls/boys varsity doubleheader.

“It’s definitely a full day of basketball,” said Brethren boys coach Travis Walker. “It’s a long day, but it is good for the fans and good for the kids.

“Fans who usually go to the girls games will hopefully stick around for the boys, and fans who go to boys games will hopefully come early for the girls,” he added. “And, of course, it’s a rivalry game. It’s a fun day in that respect.”

The day will kick off at 11 a.m. with a seventh grade girls game, with the eighth grade girls to follow at noon.

The Brethren-Bear Lake junior varsity girls will take the court at 2 p.m., while the JV boys follow at 4. Girls varsity action starts at 6 and the boys cap the night starting at 8.

The West Michigan D League and Manistee County rivals held a similar Saturday event last year at Bear Lake. This weekend, the teams will be meeting for the first time in both boys and girls competition.

“We haven’t played them yet, so to have our first encounter with them this season be on such a full day of basketball should be fun,” said Brethren girls coach Julie Riggs. “We’re charged up for it.

“Everyone in the conference knows that (Bear Lake junior) Emileigh (Ferguson) is a force down low, and they’ve got good guards too, so we know we need to play good basketball — put our offense and defense together — and be a healthy, solid team.”

For the Lakers, the game will be their first since a 54-32 road win over Mason County Eastern on Jan. 9 because last week’s league contest against Crossroads was postponed due to inclement weather.

“It’s been a long break,” Bear Lake coach Scott Brown said, “and when all you’ve been able to do is drills and practice, the girls can get a little restless.”

Brown said the all-day event will hopefully translate into solid competition on the court.

“It will make for a long day for all the teams involved, but being around basketball all day and anticipating your turn to play, I think, will bring the intensity level up a notch for everybody,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty much business as usual for us: We’re going to be out there trying to play our game.

“I know (Brethren’s) got some size, so it’s going to be good competition. And we all know on any given night, anyone can get anybody.”

The Bear Lake boys have had a break nearly as long as their female counterparts. The Lakers haven’t had a game since a Jan. 10 win over Crossroads.

“We’ve been off the whole week, so they’re pumped to get a game in,” Bear Lake coach Garret Waller said. “They did that on purpose because the school has exams this week. But, as a team, we’re definitely excited to play a game.”

Unfortunately for the Lakers, starting senior point guard Nick Streeter learned he’ll be out for rest of the season after suffering an ACL tear against Crossroads.

“We have to adjust,” Waller said. “That’s a big loss for us.”

The Lakers coach said there shouldn’t be much of a surprise on either side when the rivals hit the court.

“We’ve been preparing for what we expect from Brethren,” he said. “(Walker) is going to have his guys playing hard — he always does — so we’ve been preparing for that aggressive-type defense that we’ll see against them.”

HOOPS FOR A CAUSE

Fans are not only invited to enjoy the competition Saturday, but are encouraged to get involved in Brethren’s annual Hoops for a Cause initiative.

Throughout the day, the Bobcats will be holding a canned food drive, which grants spectators who bring donations of nonperishable food items $1 off their admission.

Then, in the 8 p.m. varsity boys contest, Brethren will hold its Hoops for a Cause clothing drive that has been an annual success.

Spectators are encouraged to bring new or gently used winter clothing to toss onto the court when the Bobcats score their first field goal.

The donations will be collected for local chapters of Coats for Kids and Love INC.

The last two seasons, the Bobcats held the clothing drive in their opener, but wanted to host a conference team with a large following in order help collect more clothing for the cause.

The drive was originally scheduled for their first meeting with Mason County Eastern on Dec. 20, but the contest was postponed due to weather.

“It worked out well, even though we’re about midway through winter already,” Walker said of the change in schedule. “Bear Lake, I’m sure, will bring a lot of fans who will help support a good cause.

“It’s one of the things we always talk about,” he added of using basketball as a vehicle to help the community. “You always want to win basketball games, but when it comes to gauging success of a season, it doesn’t always comes down to your record.”

 

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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