Sabers buckle down on defense, down Bobcats

Manistee Catholic Central’s Preston Picardat (21) runs into Brethren’s Logan Tighe (45) in the Sabers’ 45-35 win over the Bobcats on Thursday. Picardat led all scorers with 14 points in the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Manistee Catholic Central’s Preston Picardat (21) runs into Brethren’s Logan Tighe (45) in the Sabers’ 45-35 win over the Bobcats on Thursday. Picardat led all scorers with 14 points in the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BRETHREN — Manistee Catholic Central led the way with its defense on Friday night in a physical battle of cross-county rivals.

The Sabers held Brethren to five field goals in the first half to set up a 45-35 victory to stay in the top half of the West Michigan D League.

“By far (our best defensive effort). We’ve been trying to get four quarters, the whole 32 minutes. We’ve told the kids that the only way you’re going to beat the upper teams in the league is to play all four quarters,” MCC coach Mike Feliczak said.

“I thought we did that tonight. We showed a few kinks in our composure, but that’s to be expected. We just haven’t been in big games.”

The game marks a big step for MCC after being blown out by the Bobcats in both meetings last season. Meanwhile, the tough start for Brethren continued as the team fell to 1-8 overall and 1-5 in league play.

“Eventually it’s going to break. Eventually you’re going to see four quarters,” Brethren coach J.J. Randall said. “You see two minutes here and there and you say ‘wow, this team is actually pretty decent.’ We had some mental lapses on some situational stuff. We’ll continue to work on that.”

MCC (7-3, 3-3) only trailed in the opening minutes at 4-2 after baskets from Brethren’s Gavin Asiala and Jake Riggs. The Sabers took a lead less than two minutes into the game and never trailed again.

Saber guard Preston Picardat made a three to go up 5-4, and the team led from there. MCC led 11-10 after one.

Kyle Mikolajczak made two three pointers from the same spot to pull ahead by eight at 19-11 early in the second. Only a few minutes later the pressure continued with Picardat picking off a pass and getting the ball to Brayden Perkins to go up 24-12 with two minutes remaining in the half.

In the final minutes of the half Brethren finally was able to get its press going and Asiala and Riggs each scored to cut the margin to 24-16 at the break. The Bobcats only had five field goals in the half.

“We haven’t seen a lot of press this year. It’s kind of my fault that we haven’t practiced it a lot in the last couple of weeks. We have to get better at it. There’s no doubt about it,” Feliczak said. “Some of it was lack of the prep and some of it was the lack of composure. I told the kids that we’ll get more games like that and we’ll work out the composure.”

The Brethren press gave the Sabers some fits out of the break too. A three from Asiala at the top of key the capped off an 11-3 run to cut the lead to 27-23 with 4:20 left in the third. Unfortunatly for the Bobcats, the offensive effort couldn’t match the defensive as they scored two points in the final four minutes of the quarter and were unable to climb back in.

Midway through the fourth quarter Skylar Wojciechowski had an and-one play to pull Brethren back into the game at 39-34, but that would be the closest the game would be. On the next possession Mikolajczak drew and offensive foul on Asiala, resulting in his fifth foul. The Bobcats scored one point in the final four minutes of the game.

MCC was able to sit on that lead in the closing minutes for the 10-point win.

“We have to continue to build confidence. I wish I would have done some different things in this game early on. There were a couple of offensive sets that we could have run differently. Ultimately, it comes down to confidence,” Randall said.

Picardat led MCC with 14 points and 5 steals, Perkins had 10 points, and Mikolajzak had 8 points and 6 rebounds.

Asiala led Brethren with 13 points, and Riggs had 9 points and 12 rebounds.

MCC will be back on Wednesday at home against Baldwin.

Brethren will be back on Wednesday at Mason County Eastern.

Brethren won the junior varsity game 63-23.

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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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