Lakers down Sabers in battle of unbeatens, 62-36

Bear Lake’s Gary McBride (15) swats away a shot by Manistee Catholic Central’s Brayden Perkins (5) during the Lakers’ 62-36 win over the Sabers Tuesday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake’s Gary McBride (15) swats away a shot by Manistee Catholic Central’s Brayden Perkins (5) during the Lakers’ 62-36 win over the Sabers Tuesday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake boys basketball started slow, but the Lakers stayed undefeated against a scrappy, previously undefeated Manistee Catholic Central team.

After a cold shooting start Bear Lake pulled away in the final three quarters to win 62-36.

MCC was able to take the air out of the ball early, and avoid getting into a track meet with the Lakers. Austin VanAelst was able to get to the line six times in the first quarter for four points, and Kyle Mikolajczak was able to beat Bear Lake defenders in the low block to give the Sabers a 10-6 lead after one.

“Kyle is going to be a force. He has good height and he can shoot the ball well,” MCC coach Mike Feliczak said. “Somebody is going to have to deal with him throughout the season, and that’s going to free up some of our other guys. He’s a good ball player.”

“Kyle hurt us. We knew that was coming too,” Bear Lake coach Garret Waller said. “He’s a good-sized played. We started out in a man on him and we just didn’t have anybody. Credit to him, because he got us out of the man in a hurry.”

The half-court sets gave the Lakers trouble in the first, and without any baskets, they weren’t able to get the press going.

“If we don’t score, then we can’t get in our press. They did a real good job. That team got a lot better,” Waller said. “We knew that was coming. They did a good job locking us down. It was an eye-opener for them. After that we were able to get going a little better.”

That changed fast in the second. Bear Lake went on an 18-2 run to open the second quarter with most of the plays being made because of the press. A three-point shot from Trey Gilbert put the Lakers up 24-12 with 4:30 to go in the half. Some foul trouble hurt MCC in this stretch with Preston Picardat and John Slivka sat out crucial minutes.

“We knew it was coming. The foul trouble had us subbing out early in the second quarter. We went with Preston and Johnny, and they took advantage of it,” Feliczak said.

“We knew coming in that we had to play 32 minutes, and all 32 would be up and down the court. We were a little shorthanded and they took advantage of it.”

MCC was able to settle down, and only trail 31-20 at the break.

The Sabers went back to what worked early in the third to make a small comeback. MCC scored six straight points with baskets from Brayden Perkins, Picardat and VanAelst, to pull back in at 31-26. Bear Lake started getting rolling in transition again in the second half of that quarter. A lot of which came because of the 22 Sabers turnovers.

Gilbert’s big game kept the Lakers up ahead down the stretch. He finished with 21 points and 5 assists.

“Trey had a real good game tonight. He kept himself on the floor by not getting in foul trouble like he did against Baldwin and we saw what Trey can do,” Waller said.

During the closing minutes the Lakers continued to clamp down on defense, allowing only three points to the Sabers in the entire fourth quarter. The final margin was the biggest of the night.

In addition to Gilbert’s big game, Kaiden Hejl had 12 points and 6 steals, Reagan Merrill had 9 points and 11 rebounds, and Zach Belinsky had 8 points and 8 rebounds.

Mikolajczak led his team with 19 points and 10 rebounds and VanAelst had 8 points and 8 rebounds.

Bear Lake (2-0, 2-0) will be back Thursday at Mason County Eastern, while MCC (2-1, 1-1) will host Big Rapids Crossroads on Thursday.

The Lakers won the junior varsity game 68-45. Tai Babinec had 28 points and Clark May had 15 for Bear Lake. The Sabers were led by 22 points from Mateo Barnett and 17 from Blake Johnson.

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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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