Lakers fall to NMC for first loss of season

Bear Lake’s Cosima Holler (23) splits the defense as she goes up for a layup in the Lakers’ 49-27 loss to McBain Northern Michigan Christian Monday. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake girls basketball hosted McBain Northern Michigan Christian in a non-conference contest Monday. The Lakers struggled to put the ball in the basket and fell 49-27 for their first loss of the season.

“Our total field goal percentage was 17 percent from the floor,” said Bear Lake head coach Jeff Harthun. “We were 45 percent from the line — we normally shoot 70. 18 turnovers. We knew it was coming. Not the loss, but a game that we needed to actually play well in.

“As soon as the shots didn’t start falling in the first half, you could see we just kind of put our heads down.”

Hayley May gave the Lakers (6-1) their only lead of the game when Cosima Holler found her in the lane for a score. The Comets (6-3) rattled off eight consecutive points before Holler found Julie Schmidt down low for another basket to leave Bear Lake trailing 8-4 with 3:40 left in the first quarter.

The Lakers struggled to score all night and were never able to get rolling.

“When the lid was on the basket, you could see we just deflated,” Harthun said. “I just thought somebody might pick them up, but it just didn’t happen.”

NMC answered back to take a six-point lead, prompting a Bear Lake timeout. Abigail Cross sunk a pair of free throws for the Lakers to make the score 10-6 heading into the second frame.

“They shellacked us last year over there,” Harthun said. “We played with them for a half. We were down by two at half time, but they ended up beating us by quite a bit. And I don’t know if that was in the back of their mind or what, but to me it looked like we were playing on egg shells.

“The whole game, we just weren’t in any continuity,” he continued. “No flow whatsoever.”

NMC took a 12-6 lead early in the second quarter before Holler scored inside. The Comets hit some mid-range shots before May hit a 15-footer of her own to cut the NMC lead to 16-10. May also sunk a 12-foot jump shot and a pair of free throws to account for the rest of Bear Lake’s second-quarter points and the Lakers were down 24-14 at halftime.

“I think they were so worried about not making the mistake — because they knew they had to not make mistakes on defense — that we started doing things by worrying about that,” Harthun said. “We were so stuck to people, and we didn’t have to be.”

May led the Lakers with 12 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block. Holler added seven points, two assists and six steals and Kaitlynn Omar finished with two points and six boards.

The Lakers managed to hold the Comets to eight points in the third quarter. Unfortunately for Bear Lake, a layup by Holler and a pair of free throws by May made up all the Lakers’ third-quarter points and NMC was up 32-18 heading into the final stanza.

“I burned a whole bunch of timeouts just saying, ‘Listen: (Missing shots) doesn’t matter,’” Harthun said. “‘You just have to keep going to the hole.’ In the second half, we still kept going to the hole. … Tried to get (NMC) in foul trouble — they only had seven players. We went to the foul line — couldn’t make those either.”

May hit a pair of free throws to open the fourth quarter. The Comets answered back with a layup before Holler snatched an offensive rebound and put it back for a bucket to make the score 34-22 with 6:43 on the clock.

“We had (NMC) on tape,” Harthun said. “We knew what they did last year. We were well prepared for what they were going to do. Maybe I had them too prepared, which is crazy as a coach to say. Maybe that’s my fault.

“I had them over-correcting things when they didn’t have to do it.”

Holler split a pair of free throws during a 7-1 run by the Comets. Omar put back an offensive board for two points and Shaely Waller hit a baseline jumper to account for the remainder of Bear Lake’s points during the contest.

“I told them, ‘Now you have the monkey off your back,’” Harthun said. “‘You lost a game. Now you don’t have to worry about being undefeated.’ But those are the types of teams you have to play to win. We didn’t mentally come out to meet the challenge.”

Of course, it’s not all doom at gloom in Bear Lake. The Lakers remain undefeated in the West Michigan D League and perhaps a tough loss will help the plays refocus as they move forward.

“You hate to say there could be a positive in losing, but there is,” Harthun said. “You learn from what you did wrong. When you shoot, and you don’t make them, you just have to come into practice and say, ‘Okay. Let’s just think about what we’re doing shooting. Did we not follow through?’

“And like I said, it was from the foul line, and from the field, so something was just not clicking in anybody’s head tonight,” he continued. “We’ll work on it, but I’m not worried about it. It had to happen, and it happened.”

The Lakers head to Big Rapids Crossroads Wednesday for a West Michigan D League contest at 7:30 p.m.

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