Chippewas down Benzie Central to close regular season

Matthew Kneidl goes up strong with a shot in the low post, as his Chippewas try to pull away from Benzie Central in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s 46-43 victory. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

Matthew Kneidl goes up strong with a shot in the low post, as his Chippewas try to pull away from Benzie Central in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s 46-43 victory. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

By ROBERT MYERS

Pioneer Sports Network

BENZONIA – The Manistee boys basketball team picked up some momentum heading into districts with a hard-fought 46-43 victory on the road against a Benzie Central team trying to send its seniors out winners on Thursday night.

Throughout the entire night, the teams were never separated by more than two possessions. Manistee held a 16-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Benzie Central quickly evened it up, and the teams went into halftime tied at 24. Benzie Central forged a 31-27 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Chippewas countered with an eight-point run, capped by an Austin Guenther three to close out the quarter.

The Huskies came back to tie the game at 37 on a free throw with six minutes left to play, but the Chippewas came up with several key offensive rebounds for putbacks down the stretch, pushing their lead to as many as six points.

“That was really nice to see. We attacked the basket and we made some good plays. Coaches love those things. They’re easy buckets for us,” said Manistee coach Dan Gustad.

Benzie closed the lead to two points with 27 seconds left, but Jacob Gustad split a pair of free throws to put his team up three, and good defense by the Chippewas forced a contested three that bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.

“We played hard and competed, but it seems like we find different ways to lose every week,” said Matt Olson, coach of the 5-20 Huskies. “It would have been nice to send the seniors out on a good note. We shot the ball decent from the field. We didn’t turn the ball over too much. We just had some defensive lapses and some rebounding lapses.”

Gustad led the Chips with 22 points, five rebounds and three steals in the game. Keaton Connell added eight points. Guenther and Matthew Kneidl each scored five. Shane Harrington pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Kyle Mantych grabbed five boards, and Anselmo Sarabia led the team with three assists.

“It was a gritty game. Give credit to the Huskies. They played really hand and the pushed us out of our comfort zone a little bit. It was our first night playing without Jack (Sandstedt), and we missed his leadership on the floor and his speed and toughness,” Dan Gustad said. “The kids picked it up a little bit, and we made just enough shots to win.”

Manistee (7-13) will host Cadillac (13-7) at 7 p.m. on Monday to kick off postseason play.

“We played them a few weeks ago, and they beat us by 17 points. It’s going to be a tough road without Jack playing, but in the tournament, pressure affects people differently and strange things happen,” Gustad said. “I’m excited to get there on Monday night.”

Leave a Reply