Bear Lake fights off Brethren upset bid

Brethren’s Jake Riggs (24) fights to the hoop during the Bobcats’ 42-39 loss at Bear Lake on Friday. Riggs scored 10 points and had 15 rebounds in the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Brethren’s Jake Riggs (24) fights to the hoop during the Bobcats’ 42-39 loss at Bear Lake on Friday. Riggs scored 10 points and had 15 rebounds in the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake boys basketball inched closer to a league title on Friday night against a stern test by cross-county rival Brethen.

The Bobcats did just about everything right in order to pull off the upset, but still couldn’t as the Lakers escaped with a 42-39 win.

“We got the win,” Bear Lake coach Garret Waller said. “We’re two games away from winning the conference. I told them in the locker room that I didn’t care if we won by half of a point, if that was real. We won the ballgame and that’s all that matters.”

Brethren (4-11, 3-8) slowed the game down, denied Bear Lake’s Kaiden Hejl the ball with Caleb McWain shadowing him all night, handled the press, and ran a motion offense efficiently.

They just couldn’t buy a bucket when they needed to in the game.

“We did everything but make shots,” Brethren coach J.J. Randall said. “That’s the most frustrating thing. I’m still beyond proud of my guys and the hustle.”

The Bobcats started the game fast on a 9-2 run in the first four minutes of the game. They were able to handle the pressure and move the ball around the court. Gavin Asiala helped space the floor with 5 points in the first and 13 in the game.

Bear Lake (14-2, 11-1) finally got running a little bit to go on a quick 10-0 run to close the quarter, but each time the Lakers would make a run on Friday, they couldn’t shake Brethren out of the game.

Brethren kept it as a low-scoring affair, and by denying Hejl the ball were able to hang in the game by only trailing 18-14 at the half.

Hejl, who came into the game needing 16 points to hit the 1,000-point plateau, finished the game with 15 and is stuck at 999 for at least another couple of days.

“I want to see Kaiden Hejl score 1,000 points, but I didn’t want to see it tonight,” Randall said. “Caleb McWain stepped up to the plate and did the best job I’ve seen somebody play individual defense.”

“For them to score 42 and only 20 at half (it’s big). I can’t say enough about Caleb McWain. That kid played his tail off,”

Hejl did score 8 of his 15 in the third, which included one three-point shot from the volleyball lines on the court, helping the Lakers pull out for their biggest lead of the game at 30-18 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.

Bear Lake appeared to have Brethren on the ropes again, but they rallied again to get back into the game. Five quick points from Nick Kemler helped them hang around and Logan Tighe and Jake Riggs were able to pound the ball in the paint to pull back into the game at 30-29 with 5:50 left in the game.

“They played a pretty good game. They’re a physical team. They have length, but I felt like every time that we started pulling away we would let them hit a three,” Waller said.

Laker point guard Trey Gilbert help control the ball with Hejl being shadowed for each inch he stepped over the half-court line. Gilbert led another Bear Lake run to put them up 36-29 to respond to Brethren’s and that would be just enough air to hold the Bobcats off the game down the stretch

Gilbert finished with 12 points, and Zach Belinsky had 6 points and 4 rebounds.

For Brethren, Riggs had 10 points and 15 rebounds, Kemler had 9 points and 9 rebounds, and Tighe had 7 points and 9 rebounds.

Bear Lake will be back on Wednesday at Onekama.

Brethren will be back on Tuesday at Leroy Pine River.

Brethren won the junior varsity game 63-52.


Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or

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