Laker girls squeak out big win over MCE, 51-50

Bear Lake’s Yuki Babinec (center) looks to pass during the Lakers’ 51-50 win over Mason County Eastern on Thursday. Babinec finished with 15 points, including the game-winning free throws in the final seconds of the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake’s Yuki Babinec (center) looks to pass during the Lakers’ 51-50 win over Mason County Eastern on Thursday. Babinec finished with 15 points, including the game-winning free throws in the final seconds of the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake needed to rally in the closing minute to snap out of a funk and beat Mason County Eastern in a game that mirrored the first meeting between the two teams.

The Lakers won 51-50 after Yuki Babinec made two free throws with three seconds left in the game to sneak out with another win against the Cardinals (6-7, 5-5).

Only seconds before Babinec’s game-winning free throws MCE was able to take its first lead since early in the first quarter after a three from Cierra Grimm. The ending was nearly identical to the first meeting between the two teams, a 41-40 Bear Lake win in Custer on Jan. 10.

“It was like a prizefight to me. It just kept going back and forth, back and forth. We knew that was what was going to happen,” Bear Lake coach Jeff Harthun said.

Despite the foul setting up the chance to win the game, MCE coach Bill Cole doesn’t want his team to dwell on the final seconds of the game.

“In the third quarter we had three turnovers in a row and they had baskets. That’s a six or seven point swing right there. That’s when we lost the ballgame,” Cole said.

“Yes, those were the winning points. But just look at the first quarter when we didn’t box out and they had the easy putbacks. That’s where we lost the game.”

Helping the Lakers to victory were Babinec, Abby Cross and Hayley May, who accounted for 44 of the team’s 51 points. Babinec finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds, Cross had 16 points and 8 rebounds, and May had 13 points and 3 rebounds.

“It hasn’t been consistent. It’s always one person in one game, and that’s fine, but how about two or three doing that. That was good to see,” Harthun said.

Bear Lake (9-4, 7-1) went on a 14-2 run in the middle of the first quarter to get the team running early. Cross was able to find space in the low block for a couple of layups. She scored six of her 16 points in the quarter and the team led 14-11 after one.

May and MCE’s Taylor Dykman began to trade deep shots in the second quarter.

After a transition pass from May found Emily Belinsky for a layup Bear Lake had a 27-19 lead with about a minute left in the first half.

The Lakers lost Dykman in transition on two different occasions, and she hit twice to only go into the half down 29-25. Dykman had 13 points in the first half and 15 in the game.

“Obviously when she (Dykman) is on the six or nine points in a hurry helps us a lot,” Cole said. “We’ve had games when she’s been off and we had to pound the ball down low. Tonight that wasn’t very effective for us, so we were lucky we were hitting from the outside.”

May started the second half with an and-one play when she drove right into the lane and shot over a Cardinal defender to make the lead eight points at 36-28. After her play the offense went stagnant by going eight minutes without a field goal.

Slowly MCE would work itself back into the game and a three from Grimm with 25 seconds left tied it at 47.

On the ensuing possession the Lakers ran a back-door play out of a timeout and Babinec broke free for a layup to go up 49-47 with 18 seconds left.

The Cardinals and Grimm came down on the other end of the floor to launch up a desperation three that went in to take the lead back for the first time since the opening minutes at 50-49. Only seconds after the three an MCE player fouled Babinec near mid-court, and she drained both shots for the win.

“They are all big from here on out,” Harthun said. “We met last week as a team and we went up to Grand Traverse on Tuesday night and laid an egg. We just didn’t play well there. I told them that they couldn’t do that from here on out.”

Bear Lake will be back on Saturday in a crucial WMDL game at Brethren (9-4, 7-1).

Mason County Eastern won the junior varsity game 43-28.

avatar

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.

Leave a Reply