Chippewas fend off Portagers


ONEKAMA — Onekama boys basketball kept right up with Manistee but was unable to get over the hump in a 50-43 home loss Wednesday.

“These rivalry games are very emotional for these young men,” said Manistee head coach Dan Gustad. “It’s hard to stay composed when you need to. That’s something they learned tonight: If we stay composed, we can compete now in the fourth quarter and make some of the right decisions we need to make and get a W.”

The Chippewas (2-2) traded baskets with the Portagers (3-1) to start the game and Onekama’s Taylor Bennett scored on a putback to tie things up at 6-6 with 4:16 to go in the first quarter.

“We had spurts where we looked all right, but I give Manistee credit,” said Onekama head coach Nathan Bradford. “They came out and played hard. … We had too many dry spells where we couldn’t hit a basket.”

Andrew Jackoviak split a pair of free throws to put Manistee up one and Keaton Connell hit a 3-pointer to put the Chippewas up 10-6. Onekama’s Austin Harper split a pair of free throws and the teams went into the second quarter with Manistee enjoying a 10-7 edge.

“Our defense was much improved,” Gustad said. “There’s a lot more intensity on the floor. We had a couple breakdowns, but our intensity on the defensive end was much improved from Monday night.”

Manistee’s Austin Guenther hit a 3-pointer to put the Chippewas up 13-7 to start the second frame. Harper sunk a pair of free throws and Ben Acton converted a layup to pull Onekama back into it.

After Manistee’s Matthew Kneidl made a layup, Bennett sunk a pair of free throws, Acton split a pair and then Bennett hit a deep 3-pointer to put the Portagers up 17-15 with 5:48 left in the half.

“Taylor stepped up and played big (Wednesday) for us, and I thought Ben Acton had a good game,” Bradford said. “I told a few other guys we need them to step up and hit a shot here or there because we had too many dry spells where we didn’t have a basket.”

The Portagers would only score three more points in the half while Manistee made a run. Jackoviak split a pair of free throws and hit a baseline jumper to give the Chippewas the lead. Guenther hit two 3-pointers and Anselmo Sarabia scored a layup to put Manistee up 27-20 at half.

“We hustled,” Gustad said. “We pushed the ball. We had a couple unlucky breaks, a couple balls bouncing the wrong way, but that’s going to happen. They played a lot more aggressive on the defensive end which was very encouraging.”

Onekama opened the second half with a 7-3 run when Acton and Wade Sedlar each made a layup and Bennett hit another 3-pointer to pull within three points of Manistee. Connell and Guenther each hit a 3-pointer and the Chippewas were up 36-29 with 3:16 left in the third.

“Manistee got hot from the outside,” Bradford said. “We were in the zone and we had to come out and play man. We had our chances at the end and got it close, but they hit the shots when they needed to make them so I give them credit.”

Guenther led Manistee with 19 points and three assists. Sarabia finished with three points, four steals, and team-highs in rebounds and assists with eight and six, respectively. Kneidl had five points and nine rebounds, Connell had 13 points and Jackoviak finished with 10.

“If we go inside and work it to the outside, we’re much better shooters than if the first guy across half court launches one,” Gustad said. “We talked about that at halftime. We were a little antsy with the shot first half. In the second half we were a little more patient.”

The two teams played even the rest of the quarter and a step-back jumper by Kneidl allowed Manistee to start the fourth quarter with a 40-33 lead.

Bennett paced the Portagers with 20 points, four rebounds and three blocks. Acton had 13 points, five boards, two assists and a team-high 12 steals. Sedlar added seven points and six rebounds.

“A few of the kids had active hands,” Bradford said. “(Acton) had been getting into foul trouble and I think he adjusted a little bit and played with his feet and it paid off getting the steals.”

Bennett hit two 3-pointers in the final stanza but Manistee was able to maintain its lead to the final buzzer.

“The kids didn’t quit,” Bradford said. “We kept coming back but we just have to get more contribution from our guard play. I thought our post players did an okay job. … Hopefully we can adjust a few things, get ready and bounce back Friday.”

The two teams next see action Friday at 7:30. The Portagers host Buckley in a Northwest Conference contest and the Chippewas host Lakes-8 rival Ludington.

In the JV game, Manistee won 59-30.

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