Onekama looks impressive in win over Leland

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler (22) launches a shot in the paint during the Portagers’ 52-29 win over Leland on Wednesday. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Onekama’s Jacob Mauntler (22) launches a shot in the paint during the Portagers’ 52-29 win over Leland on Wednesday. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

ONEKAMA — Onekama boys basketball appears poised for a run at districts after beating Leland for the second time this season.

The Portagers played tough on the defensive end to pull away from the Comets 69-37.

Despite the final margin, Leland hung with Onekama for most of the first half, but a jolt of offense by Taylor Bennett changed the game. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s been doing a great job for us. He’s been working hard in practice. He’s getting a little more confident,” Onekama coach Nathan Bradford said. “We’re going to need him going forward in the rest of the regular season and the tournament. The nice thing is that I can put him anywhere.”

Onekama (10-6, 8-5) struggled to pick up Leland’s shooters early in the game in transition. Comets’ senior Christopher Ursu made two three-point shots in the first quarter, including one four-point play to close the first quarter with a 14-13 lead.

To start the second quarter Leland was able to hang around in the game after beating the Portagers’ press over the top and hitting open shots. At one point the game was tied at 20.

“A couple of times we got sucked in on the offensive rebound and we didn’t get a guy back so they could throw over the top,” Bradford said. “I told Jayden and a couple of other guys that if he goes in that we have to rotate properly. Good teams could burn us on that. We we’re lucky to get a couple tonight and I said to learn from it.”

Bennett came on strong in the minutes before the halftime break. He went on a 7-0 run by himself to help the team pull ahead 27-20, and eventually take a 34-23 lead into halftime. He play some inside-out basketball with two jumpers despite being on the floor as the five.

The Portagers forced more turnovers in the second half with a three-quarter court press. They had 18 steals in the game, and the Comets (5-10, 1-10) didn’t handle the pressure well in the third quarter. Leland only scored six points in the quarter, while Onekama had countless transition opportunities.

Jayden DeWitt made a three from the corner to close the third with a 52-29 lead.

“They came out aggressive at the start and we were playing a little stagnant. Taylor came in and I told him to be aggressive. He did a good job looking for his shot and driving to the basket. It got everybody flowing a little better,” Bradford said.

“It seemed like we were all standing around. We were moving the ball well, but I told the kids to be aggressive and penetrate the the gaps. That’s when we got rolling in the second half of the second quarter. I told them at the half to jump on them out of the gate.”

Bradford was able to start mixing up lineups in the fourth, but the team kept the pressure on. Ben Johnson and Rylan Clarke came in off of the bench in the fourth to score 4 points each while the team coasted in for the 32-point win.

Bennett wasn’t the only player with a double-double, Nick Falk finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. DeWitt also had 10 points and 4 rebounds, Jeremiah Torrey had 10 points and 4 rebounds, and Jacob Mauntler had 7 points and 7 rebounds.

Onekama had 44 rebounds as a team.

The Portagers will be back on Friday at Suttons Bay (6-10, 4-9).

Onekama won the junior varsity game 49-26.

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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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