Lakers pressure too much for Bobcats

Bear Lake’s Gary McBride (15) drives the baseline past Brethren’s Caleb McWain (32) during the Lakers’ 67-40 win over the Bobcats Thursday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake’s Gary McBride (15) drives the baseline past Brethren’s Caleb McWain (32) during the Lakers’ 67-40 win over the Bobcats Thursday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BRETHREN —  Bear Lake boys basketball got their running game going against Brethren on Thursday night to stay undefeated on the season.

The Lakers cruised after a quick start to pull ahead, and stay ahead in a 67-40 West Michigan D League victory.

The Bobcats were able to handle the pressure defense for a couple minutes at a time, but in typical Bear Lake fashion, one turnover quickly can turn into seven.

“You have to give them credit with their pressure defense,” Brethren coach J.J. Randall said. “They’re a good basketball team. Garret does a great job using those athletes.”

“Brethren is probably the most physical team we’ve played so far this season. Their record doesn’t show the kind of team that they are,” Bear Lake coach Garret Waller said.

The turnovers started in the first few minutes with the Lakers jumping out to a 14-2 lead less than three minutes into the game. Trey Gilbert had five points in the opening three minutes and Travis Johnson had four off of a couple of drives from the left side to start the game with some momentum.

Brethren subbed Gavin Asiala into the game to help handle the pressure a little, and he set up a corner three for Caleb McWain to pull back into the game at 18-12. The Lakers led 20-14 after one.

The Bobcats pulled within four early in the second at 22-18, but Bear Lake cranked up the pressure again towards the end of the half. Brethren was able to make that run after hitting a few three’s against the Bear Lake zone, forcing the Lakers to switch into a man.

“The threes hurt us. They scored 18 out of the 40 on three pointers. That was partially my fault. I told the guys in the locker room that we should have played more man. I didn’t anticipate us having a problem getting to them on the three-point line,” Waller said.

“At halftime we switched to playing man, and that kind of shut the three pointer down a little bit. We have to go a better job of covering up the three-point line.”

Bear Lake point guard Kaiden Hejl got into the game offensively and led the team on a 15-5 run to take a 37-23 lead into the break. He had 11 in the first half and 21 for the game. Hejl also had 8 assists and 7 steals.

After an injury and a player out with illness, Bear Lake played most of the final three quarters with only six players.

“Some guys had to step up and take care of business,” Waller said. “I thought Kaiden Hejl played a great game with 21 points, 8 assists and 7 steals. That’s a great game knowing that they had to lock him down, and to still put up those numbers is fantastic.”

“Give credit to Bear Lake. They had their guys, like Kaiden Hejl, hitting shots from the white line. When you have to come out and play defense on him, that means your rebounding is out of position,” Randall said.

Throughout the second half the rout was on with the turnovers and layups on the other end. The Lakers had 22 steals as a team, and the turnovers blew the game open for the eventual 27-point margin.

Along with Hejl’s big game, Gilbert had 15 points and 5 rebounds, Reagan Merrill had 10 points and 4 rebounds, Johnson had 8 points and Gary McBride had 9 points and 6 rebounds.

For Brethren, Asiala had 12, McWain had 9 points and Jake Riggs had 6 points and 8 rebounds.

Bear Lake (7-0, 5-0) will be back next Thursday at home against Pentwater.

Brethren (1-7, 1-4) will be back on that Thursday at home against Manistee Catholic Central.

Brethren won the junior varsity game 56-35.

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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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