Manistee can’t keep up with Ludington

Anselmo Sarabia looks to score against rival Ludington on Friday night at Manistee High School. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Manistee boys basketball hosted archrival Ludington Friday in a Lakes-8 showdown. The Chippewas fell behind early and were never able to recover in a 61-34 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.

“I think we played a better first half than we did a second half,” said Manistee head coach Dan Gustad. “We played more as a team in the first half. It seemed like in the second half we drifted more into the one-on-one type basketball.

“Against a good team like Ludington, you don’t win those games.”

Manistee’s Keaton Connell started things off with a 3-pointer 22 seconds into the game. Ludington answered back with a 3 of its own, igniting an 8-0 run. Chippewa Austin Guenther scored from deep to cut the Oriole advantage to 8-6.

“We didn’t make many shots, but we competed,” Gustad said. “I give my guys credit, they didn’t quit. We have to learn to play together a little more — learn to persevere those long storms and stay together as a team and I think good things will happen.”

Ludington (2-3, 1-1 Lakes-8) hit a 3-pointer and Guenther answered back with a layup before Connell sunk a pair of free throws to pull Manistee (2-3, 0-2 Lakes-8) within one point of the Orioles. Ludington closed the first quarter on a 6-2 run with Anselmo Sarabia making a layup for the Chippewas. The score was 17-12 after one.

“I feel like we played kind of bad,” Connell said. “I don’t even know what to say. Turnovers. We talked about turnovers before the game, and then we turn it over a (lot).

“And then, boxing out,” he continued. “We talked about not giving them four or five chances, and what do we do every single play? Gave them four or five chances.”

Ludington started the second quarter off with a 3-pointer. Matthew Kneidl scored inside and William Elbers hit a 3-pointer to make the score 20-17. From there, Ludington went on an 12-2 run during which the Chippewas missed six consecutive free throws. Elbers scored inside and Kneidl sunk a pair of free throws, leaving Ludington up 34-21 at halftime.

“A little bit (of the problem on offense) was just us missing shots, but I think we didn’t run our offense, like, ever,” Connell said. “We never ran any offensive sets. And when we would, we would run it for like three or four back and forth tries and then bail on it after it didn’t work.”

While the Orioles were able to give themselves multiple shots per possession by grabbing offensive boards, the Chippewas struggled to do the same and had no offensive rebounds at half.

“That’s zero second possessions,” Gustad said. “That’s zero second shots. That’s one and done every time down the floor. As a defense you love it, but as an offense, you’re like, ‘Where’s the extra possession here?’

“We’re not that great of a shooting team so we need those extra possessions.”

The Orioles have had the upper hand in the rivalry of late, with Manistee’s last win over Ludington dating back to Dec. 13, 2011. With Friday’s win the Orioles have won the last 13 matchups between the two teams.

The Chippewas only managed five points in the third quarter with Kneidl converting a 3-point play and Connell sinking a pair of free throws. The Orioles continued to convert offensive rebounds into points and Manistee was down 47-26 after three.

“Defensively, I thought our effort in the first half was there,” Gustad said. “In the second half when (Ludington) made a little run on us and we made a couple turnovers, you could see the spirits fade a little bit.

“And when the wind goes out of the sail, with a team that can run the way (Ludington) can, and can shoot like they can, bad things will happen.”

Kneidl led Manistee with nine points and seven rebounds. Connell chipped in with seven points and four rebounds while both Sarabia and Elbers finished with five points and three rebounds.

Kneidl scored down low to open the final frame. Ludington then scored seven unanswered points, prompting a Manistee timeout. Sarabia hit a 3-pointer to make things 54-31, but Ludington scored the next six points.

“Next time we play them, we need to crash the offensive glass,” Connell said. “And another thing is not giving up when we’re down. Like last year, we were down by 18 in the third. We came all the way back and ended up losing on a buzz-beater shot and lost by two. Like, it could happen here again.”

Bishop Davis scored Manistee’s final three points. He stole the ball and scored a layup with 49 seconds on the clock and later split a pair of free throws. He finished with three points and three rebounds off the bench.

“We lost by 20 and we didn’t play that well,” Gustad said. “So you have to look at it and say, ‘Hey guys, we get a couple shots to fall and we make some free throws in the first half and that’s a totally different second half.

“It wasn’t totally a blowout,” he continued. “We’ve gotten our rears handed to us by these guys a lot of times, but we competed.”

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