Portagers cruise past Bulldogs, into district final

Sometimes in March, you can throw records out the window.

However, the Onekama boys basketball team’s 57-28 Class D district semifinal win over Mesick Wednesday night at Buckley was not one of those situations.

From the opening frame, the Portagers (20-1) hounded the lowly Bulldogs (1-19), gathering a 26-6 lead at the first buzzer that grew to a 38-9 tilt by halftime as they cruise into the district final on Friday against Frankfort.

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler goes up for a layup Wednesday night during the Portagers’ Class D district semifinal win over Mesick. (Jared Buchholz/News Advocate)

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler goes up for a layup Wednesday night during the Portagers’ Class D district semifinal win over Mesick. (Jared Buchholz/News Advocate)

“I told the kids ‘let’s come out with intensity on the defensive end and get things flowing and keep working,”’ said Portagers coach Nathan Bradford. “If we are working hard on the defensive end, good things happen. Obviously we took off offensively and had a good run and scored a quick few points.”

Senior Jarett Sovereign and freshman Jacob Mauntler fueled the Portagers’ early surge with 10 and seven points, respectively, in the first quarter.

They finished with a team-leading 14 points apiece with Sovereign adding 10 rebounds and three blocks and Mauntler contributing four boards, four steals and two assists.

Caleb Wisniski had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, Jon Acton added four points with three steals and three assists and Randy Pienta scored one with six rebounds and four assists.

“I thought in spurts of the game we did a good job offensively. … We pushed the ball ahead when we had chances. Randy (Pienta) did a better job tonight. He attacked when we had it and kept it back and got into the offense,” Bradford said.

Mesick got a 14-point performance from junior Dirk Smith, but no other Bulldog scored more than five points.

With the big lead at the half, Bradford had the flexibility to get everyone on the roster some playing time with junior Hunter Morley scoring eight off the bench with two triples to lead the reserves. Ethan Hunt scored three and sophomore Austin Sovereign scored two to round out the scoring.

“I wanted to get a few guys in because I know we are going to need them on Friday,” Bradford said. “I wanted to get them in working with a few of the starting group and I thought the young guys came in a did a pretty good job for us.”

The Portagers and Bulldogs played to a stalemate in the second half with the Portagers taking the third quarter 13-12 and the Bulldogs taking the fourth 7-6.

“It is a good victory in districts, especially when you can get everybody in,” Bradford said.

In the other semifinal game, Frankfort (19-2) beat Buckley (11-11) 71-53 to advance to Friday’s final.

“I know they have everything going for them,” Bradford said of the defending district-champion Panthers, “but the way my guys have been playing this year, I know they have confidence going into it.

“I said as long as we show up and do the things we have to do — playing solid defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball — I think we should be right in there.”

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