Chippewas on a roll, beat Bobcats 51-37

 Manistee’s Jack Sandstedt (22) brings the ball up the floor, guarded by Brethren’s Nick Kemler (33) during the Chippewas’ 51-37 win over the Bobcats Tuesday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Jack Sandstedt (22) brings the ball up the floor, guarded by Brethren’s Nick Kemler (33) during the Chippewas’ 51-37 win over the Bobcats Tuesday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BRETHREN — In a battle of two teams that desperately needed a win, Manistee boys basketball overcame a slow start to defeat county rival Brethren on Tuesday night.

The Chippewas didn’t shoot the ball well to open the game, but were able handle the Bobcats 51-37.

The win is the second in a row for Manistee (3-5), marking it the first two-game winning streak since February of 2014. This is only the second two-game winning streak for the program since 2012.

“They’re a scrappy team. They were a few guys down and they played well and aggressive,” Manistee coach Dan Gustad said.

“I think we played a little out of sorts in that first quarter. We were a little too excited and amped up. We finally caught up with ourselves in the second half and played controlled basketball. We pressured them a little bit in the full-court press, which helped us a bunch.”

Despite the momentum this week, the Chippewas started the game slow. Brethren (1-6) came out in an aggressive zone that held the Chippewas to a four-minute scoring drought off of the opening tip. On the other end the Bobcats led 7-0 after two layups by Jake Riggs and a three from Gavin Asiala.

Manistee settled down and began to run its offense, going on a 17-4 run to close the first. Two elbow three’s from Chippewa guard Austin Guenther took Brethren out of its zone and into a man, while the Bobcats became turnover-prone after point guard Gavin Asiala went out of the game with an ankle injury.

Freshman Skylar Wojciechowski spelled for Asiala well in the game. He opened the second quarter with a corner three to keep his team in the game.

“There were some bright spots. Skylar Wojo came in and as a freshman to do that against a Class-B school and take over was great,” Brethren coach J.J. Randall said.

“Gavin Asiala going down is a tough thing, especially because he probably had his best game in the last game. Going down in the first few minutes is frustrating because it messes with everything else with our rotation.”

Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the second, but four points by Brethren’s Caleb McWain and a couple of layups for Manistee’s Matthew Kneidl helped the teams go into the half with the Chippewas up 25-23.

The Chippewas cranked up the pressure in the second half and the Bobcats continued to turn the ball over. Manistee’s backcourt of Anselmo Sarabia, Jack Sandstedt and Keaton Connell jolted a 10-2 run out of the locker room to pull up by double digits at 35-25 with four minutes left in the third.

“Consistency is the problem. We’ve seen it. That’s why we’re 1-6. You see when we’re real good. That’s the most frustrating thing as a coach right now,” Randall said. “I see their potential in certain games, and you see them not live up to their potential in certain games.”

The Manistee pressure kept up for the entire second half, holding Brethren to 14 points after the break.

Kneidl took over in the final minutes for the Chippewas scoring their final eight points in the game to lead the team to the eventual 14-point victory. He finished with 16 points.

“He’s got some things to figure out, but when he plays like he did today there are very few guys that we’ll play this year that can stop him,” Gustad said.

“When he starts to understand that, to understand that when you work that hard in practice you’re rewarded with playing in a game like this, then the sky is the limit for that young man.”

Along with Kneidl, Guenther and Sarabia each finished with six points.

Riggs led Brethren with 11 points and eight rebounds, Logan Tighe had seven points and Wojciechowski finished with 10 points.

Brethren will be back on Wednesday at home against Bear Lake (6-0, 4-0).

Manistee will be back on Friday when it hosts Muskegon Heights (2-6).

Manistee won the junior varsity game 48-39.

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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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