Lakers hang on, now 3-0 after downing Buckley 43-36

Bear Lake’s Daisy Evans drives to the basket during the Lakers’ 43-36 win over Buckley Wednesday night. The win kept Bear Lake undefeated on the season with a record of 3-0. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

Bear Lake’s Daisy Evans drives to the basket during the Lakers’ 43-36 win over Buckley Wednesday night. The win kept Bear Lake undefeated on the season with a record of 3-0. (Scott Yoshonis/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake jumped out to an early lead, but had to withstand a furious Buckley comeback attempt to remain unbeaten with a 43-36 Laker win Wednesday night.

Yuki Babinec led all scorers with 21 points in the game, including several crucial free throws down the stretch to ice the win.

Bear Lake (3-0) came out firing on all cylinders, scoring the first 11 points of the game and threatening to run away with the contest, opening up an 18-point lead three minutes into the second quarter.

But the Bears (0-3) clawed back, cutting the lead to just five points in the final minute before time ran out.

“I was really, really happy with the first quarter and the first half,” Bear Lake coach Jeff Harthun said. “I told them, that is the team they can be. We saw what we could be, but we have to do it for four quarters. I didn’t see it in the first two games, and today I actually did.”

Bear Lake found its outside shooting range, as three different Lakers scored from outside the arc. Kaitlynn Omar’s long bomb with 5:10 left in the second quarter gave Bear Lake its biggest lead, 22-4.

But the young Bears came roaring back, closing the gap to 10 points on a 3-pointer by freshman Shelby Cade halfway through the third quarter, and cutting it to single digits with another three in the closing seconds that made it a 31-22 game going into the fourth.

“We’re scrappy,” Buckley head coach Dan Harris said. “A lot of teams would fold when (the deficit) is almost 20, but we didn’t. We just kept grinding, and that’s how I know they’ll get better.”

Buckley sophomore Abbey Welling hit a three with 4:55 left in the fourth to make the score 35-28, and the Bears were forced to foul.

But the player who went to the line was Babinec, and she came through in a big way, scoring five points in Bear Lake’s three 1-and-1 opportunities to get the lead back to double digits, 40-30 in the final minute.

Buckley’s Cameryn Ensor then scored five of her team-high 13 points to make it a 5-point game, but Babinec drained both ends of the Lakers’ first double-bonus with 25 seconds on the clock to ice it.

Alyssa Eisenlohr split a pair of free throws in the final seconds to make the final score 43-36.

Harthun attributes his team’s late near-collapse to fatigue and conditioning.

“We got a little bit tired, and we couldn’t remember the offense, couldn’t remember where we were going,” Harthun said. “Some of the girls run cross country, but this is an entirely different thing. We’ll get there, but you could tell when we lost it, mentally.”

Next up for the Lakers is a West Michigan D League home game on Friday, Dec. 8 against Manistee Catholic Central.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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