Laker boys win outright WMDL title

Bear Lake senior Kaiden Hejl (10) looks to drive to the basket past Walkerville’s Shane Achterhof (21) during the Lakers’ 93-51 win over the Wildcats Thursday night. The win earns Bear Lake the outright West Michigan D League championship. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake senior Kaiden Hejl (10) looks to drive to the basket past Walkerville’s Shane Achterhof (21) during the Lakers’ 93-51 win over the Wildcats Thursday night. The win earns Bear Lake the outright West Michigan D League championship. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake boys basketball will be able to call itself kings of the West Michigan D League after a 93-51 thrashing of Walkerville.

The Lakers clinched sole possession of first place during the win, and the league title is the first since 2008. The game coincided with Senior Night, and those seniors were in second grade during that season.

“I was a little bit worried about this game, but these guys were not going to lose that game,” Bear Lake coach Garret Waller said. “It was the last home game of the year and the seniors were not going to let that happen tonight. They were not going to lose that game.”

The Wildcats tried running with Bear Lake, and the Lakers are probably still running. Walkerville made four three-point shots in the first quarter and was able run with the press for a few minutes. After a three from Shane Achterhof the Wildcats took an 18-10 lead with under a minute in the first.

It was all Lakers from there.

Walkerville (9-11, 6-8) participated in the Lakers’ track meet, and that never ends well. In under three minutes of game time Bear Lake went on a 15-3 run with Kaiden Hejl, Trey Gilbert and Travis Johnson catching fire.

Johnson made two threes at the end of the quarter, while Gilbert made five in the first half.

The 18-10 deficit became a 43-34 lead at the half, and the rout would be on in the second half.

“Walkerville came out hitting threes when they had their fresh legs, but you can see them wearing down with the press,” Waller said.

“They broke the press a few times, but I wasn’t getting too worried because that was speeding them up and getting them tired. All we needed to was to keep scoring.”

Hejl capped off his senior night with 29 points and 5 assists, while Gilbert, who is a junior filled up the stat sheet too with 28 points, 9 assists and 7 steals.

Johnson also finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds, and the other senior Gary McBride finished with 11 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocks.

McBride didn’t score in the first half but out of the break he was able to clean the glass and create a handful of second-chance and transition opportunities.

The nine-point game became 76-49 after the third quarter. Walkerville only had 17 points in the second half.

Kyle Fink made a corner three with 3:55 left to go up 91-49 and put the running clock into action down the stretch.

The Lakers (17-3, 13-1) clinched the league title in the win, and Waller thinks the league was deeper this season than in recent years with teams like Pentwater and Manistee Catholic Central improving.

“To me this was probably the most competitive year in our conference. There was a lot of improvement there. That makes it fun. It makes it feel like you earned something,” he said.

Bear Lake will be back in action at districts at Buckley on Monday against Mesick (2-18).

Walkerville won the junior varsity game 39-33.

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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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