Portagers down Bobcats 51-27 in season opener

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler (left) dribbles around Brethren’s Nick Kemler (right) during the Portagers’ 51-27 win over the Bobcats in the first game of the 2017-18 boys basketball season Tuesday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler (left) dribbles around Brethren’s Nick Kemler (right) during the Portagers’ 51-27 win over the Bobcats in the first game of the 2017-18 boys basketball season Tuesday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BRETHREN — Early season games aren’t always pretty, and this one was sometimes ugly as a Onekama boys basketball took care of county rival Brethren on opening night.

The Portagers were able to run away in the second half to start the season with a 51-27 win after holding the Bobcats to nine points in the second half.

“I knew coming in the kids were working hard in practice. It was good to play somebody different. I knew coming in that we might be a little rusty,” Onekama coach Nathan Bradford said.

“That’s kind of where we are in our development,” Brethren coach J.J. Randall said. “Defensively we’re good. We’re sound defensively. Offensively, we have to be a little bit stronger and a little tougher.”

To start the game both defenses came out in control. Brethren came out with a two-three zone that forced Onekama to launch up a few shots from deep, and the Portagers mixed it up between a man and zone, but had a constant full-court pressure of some type.

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler hit two three-point shots to open up with a 6-4 lead in the first, but the Bobcats battled back with two free throws from Jalen Guenther and a fadeaway jumper from Jake Riggs to only trail 14-10 after one.

Starting the second quarter the two defense efforts stayed the same, but the fouls began to pile up. The teams combined for 17 foul shots in the quarter. Both team’s leading returning scorers, (Onekama’s Mauntler and Brethren’s Gavin Asiala) picked up two fouls in that span.

The Bobcats took its largest and final lead of the game after two free throws from Caleb McWain extended the lead to 19-16 with 3:25 left in the second quarter.

From there it was all down hill for Brethren. The Bobcats would score nine points in the final 19:25 in the game.

The Portagers couldn’t blow the game open towards the end of the half with some poor free-throw shooting, and only led 24-19 at the break. Onekama was 11-for-26 at the line for the night, good for 42 percent.

Asiala picked up a third foul just over a minute into the second half, and the offense couldn’t really get going for the Bobcats. Brethren scored three points in the quarter, and had a handful of turnovers forced by the Onekama pressure.

“In the first half we battled, but then we relaxed against the three-quarter court press. We couldn’t break it,” Randall said.

Meanwhile, Portager senior guard Jeremiah Torrey finally was able to find the soft spot in the Bobcat zone for a couple of early baskets to help the team pull ahead. Falk and Mauntler each scored to close out the quarter giving the team a 33-22 lead going into the fourth. The Brethren defense did hold tough though, despite playing on defense most of the night, holding Onekama to 27 percent shooting.

“I told the guys (at halftime) to jump on them in the third quarter. That way we could have a little breathing room in the fourth,” Bradford said.

Once the fourth began Onekama turned up the pressure a little higher, and the once competitive game all of the sudden wasn’t, after an 11-2 run opened the quarter. Many of the Portagers baskets came in transition off of Bobcat turnovers.

After the fast start in the final quarter, Onekama was able to cruise in with a 51-27 win.

“Towards the end we were able to get into a little bit of pressure and get them going a little bit faster than what they’d like, and the guys capitalized on it,” Bradford said.

“There were a lot of times that Onekama just outworked us. That was my biggest disappointment. That’s what we pride ourselves on. We got outworked,” Randall said.

Mauntler finished with 18 points and 4 rebounds, Torrey had 16 points and 7 rebounds, and Falk had 8 points and 6 rebounds. Logan Tighe led Brethren with 10 points and 5 rebounds, and McWain had 6 points and 4 rebounds.

Brethren (0-1) will be back on Thursday at home against Pentwater, while Onekama (1-0) will host defending Class-D runner-up Buckley on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

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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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