Bear Lake falls at Pentwater 40-37 in battle of league leaders

Bear Lake’s Hayley May (15) drives to the basket past Pentwater’s Mikaylyn Kenney (24) during the Lakers’ 40-37 loss Thursday night. May led the Lakers with 11 points and 12 rebounds. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake’s Hayley May (15) drives to the basket past Pentwater’s Mikaylyn Kenney (24) during the Lakers’ 40-37 loss Thursday night. May led the Lakers with 11 points and 12 rebounds. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

PENTWATER — Bear Lake lost control of its own destiny in the West Michigan D League girls basketball title race Thursday night at Pentwater.

The Lakers ran out of steam in the final minutes to give the Falcons a 40-37 win and sole possession of the conference with only one week left in the regular season.

Neither team led by more than six points at any point and there were seven lead changes in a game in which momentum swung back and forth. Pentwater finished the game on a 7-3 run over the final 4 minutes to pull away when it mattered.

“I think it’s all there, but we still haven’t put it together. We’re running out of time to put it together. That’s what I’m still looking for,” Bear Lake coach Jeff Harthun said. “We’re putting people in the game and looking for that continuity, and it still hasn’t happened yet.”

Bear Lake (12-5, 10-2) had the biggest lead for either team less than three minutes into the game after jumping out 6-0, before careless ball handling by the Lakers let the Falcons back into the game. They had 16 turnovers in the game, but most were in the first half.

Pentwater’s Julia Hall gave the Bear Lake backcourt trouble and had a couple of steal-and-layup plays in the first half that helped her team pull back into the game. She finished with 5 steals.

Pentwater couldn’t take advantage of all of the turnovers with plenty of missed layups in the paint.

Layups from Bear Lake’s Yuki Babinec and Hayley May in the closing minutes of the half gave them a 17-16 lead at the break.

“We’ve talked all year about our length, speed and trying to get into passing lanes,” Pentwater coach Joe Gorton said. “Julia understood that. That was the gameplan. We needed steals up top. Even though we weren’t finishing our bunnies, we at least were taking the ball out of their hands and giving ourselves opportunities to score.”

The teams traded runs throughout the second half with one team pulling ahead by a basket or two, and then the other would come back. Bear Lake struggled to get any consistent offense while shooting just 31 percent from the field, but May was able to keep the team in the game by driving to the basket.

She finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Lakers led 34-33 with 4:40 left in the game, but Pentwater’s Taylor Wilkinson took over the game down the stretch. She scored 6 of her game-high 14 points in the fourth to put Pentwater in the driver’s seat in the conference race.

“We usually go to the foul line a lot more times than 8. We shot 31 percent from the floor and we turned the ball over way too much in the first half,” Harthun said. “I think we came in and were ready to play. I don’t know. We’re not physically tired, but we’re mentally tired.”

Helping May in the game for Bear Lake was Abby Cross with 8 points and 6 rebounds, Babinec had 8 points and 6 rebounds, and Kaitlynn Omar had 6 points.

The Lakers had 13 offensive rebounds in the game.

To get back in the league race the Lakers will need some help from cross-county rival Brethren on Monday night. The Bobcats will host Pentwater (13-5, 11-1) in a rematch of a game that Brethren won early in the season.

“We have districts in a week. You have to hope and pray that they get beat by Brethren to give us a share. There’s a lot of things that have to happen,” Harthun said.

Bear Lake will be back on Monday at Baldwin (3-12, 3-9).

Pentwater won the junior varsity game 40-27.

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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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