Portagers rout county-rival Bobcats 75-52 to open 2016-17

 

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler (22) goes up for a reabound as teammate Joe McCarthy (43) and Brethren’s Gavin Asiala (right) look on during the Portagers’ 75-52 win over the Bobcats in the boys basketball seaon opener on Tuesday. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler (22) goes up for a reabound as teammate Joe McCarthy (43) and Brethren’s Gavin Asiala (right) look on during the Portagers’ 75-52 win over the Bobcats in the boys basketball seaon opener on Tuesday. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

ONEKAMA — Old rivals kicked off the season on Tuesday with Onekama handling Brethren after shooting out of the starting gates.

The Portagers cruised 75-52 after building a big lead in the opening minutes.

A few missed layups by the Bobcats led to wide-open chances going the other direction early with Onekama taking a 20-7 after the first quarter behind nine points by Jacob Mauntler. Mauntler would finish with 21 points and four assists.

“Onekama hit a lot of shots and they were ready to play. We came out tight and we were unsure about what we wanted to do,” Brethren coach J.J. Randall said.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start,” Onekama coach Nathan Bradford said. “We had good defensive intensity and we were knocking down our shots to get a little momentum going to finish through with a pretty good first half.”

The lead kept growing in the second quarter where a few variations of smaller lineups helped Onekama in the open court. The Portagers opened up the score even more at 37-18 at the half, highlighted by a dunk from Mauntler midway through the quarter.

“I told the guys the main thing is to come out with some defensive intensity. It was great to see the defense get going into the offense,” Bradford said. “We started out moving the ball pretty well, and guys were knocking down shots.”

Onekama stretched the lead to 28 points early in the fourth quarter at 64-36 after Mauntler and a supporting cast of Joe McCarthy, who had 17 points and five rebounds, and Andy Johnson, who had 12 points and four rebounds, were able to get into the mix.

“I stressed at halftime that we needed to come out and take care of the basketball,” Bradford said. “We tried to work on a few things to kill a little bit of clock in the fourth quarter.”

Bradford was also pleased with how they were able to work in some of the newcomers to the team who added minutes like with Johnson, but also with Taylor Bennett and Jayden DeWitt, who each had eight points.

“Being the first game I was trying to figure out with the young guys and the different rotations. I thought everybody stepped up and did their jobs,” he said.

Brethren was able to settle into its offense late in the game, but it was too little, too late. The Bobcats were able to open the floor up a bit in the fourth quarter with 21 of their 52 points coming in the final eight minutes. They were led by a balanced scoring attack, with a lot of it coming in the final minutes by Kameren Danks with 15 points, Caleb McWain with nine points, Gavin Asiala had 11 points and Brendan McClard had 11.

“Is Onekama a good team? Yeah. Are they that much better? No, and that showed at the end when we were finally playing loose,” Randall said.

“That’s part of the problem. It took until the second half. We were down 20-some points. It’s just a learning experience. We won’t see these guys again, but we might in districts and I hope we do. I know that we’re going to work our tails off to get better.”

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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