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In December, the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes headed into the Christmas break with a win, 62-60, over the Calumet Copper Kings at home. Friday night, the Copper Kings flipped the script at home, winning 58-46.
The high school basketball season is a long one. It is more equivalent to a marathon than a sprint or even a middle-distance event. It opens with practices in mid-November and wraps up more than three months later at the beginning of March, hence the appropriately-named March Madness. Okay, that is traditionally a college basketball term, but it also works for high school.
For a number of schools, the team that they began with around Thanksgiving is not necessarily the squad they end up as the season winds down. Case in point is the Lakes boys’ basketball team.
Friday’s loss to they Copper Kings, a major rival of the Lakes, their head coach described the Lakes as a very different squad.
“We are not even the same team right now,” said head coach Jack Kumpula. “We’ve lost our starters Carter Crouch and William Lyons. It was a different story back in December.”
On the Calumet bench, head coach Frank Bonacorsi is quite pleased with the way these last days of the regular season are turning out. He has every right to be happy, his team is heating up just in time for the playoffs.
“We’ve won five of the last six games,” he said. “We have a good momentum going.”
The Copper Kings shot themselves out to an early lead and never looked back despite a scoring drought midway through the first quarter.
“There was a five-minute bump there where we did not hardly score, but our defense did a great job in stopping Lake Linden,” said Bonacorsi. “Will Twardzik and Kip Kangas played lights-out defense for us and that really made the difference.”
After the first, the Copper Kings led 16-10.
In the second, the Lakes played a little stronger, but just not well enough to catch up to the Copper Kings. According to Kumpula, that has been familiar problem all season.
“We get down early and come back, but can never catch the other team,” he said. “That is our nemesis. We cannot get over the hump.”
The Copper Kings led by eight at halftime with the score 28-20.
The third quarter looked much the same until the final three minutes. Calumet led 38-32 with 2:50 on the clock. The Copper Kings kept going with a seven-point run while the Lakes were stuck on 32, not just to end the third but into the fourth before a free throw by Alex Marhley made it 33. By that point, the Copper Kings had a 13-point lead and were well on the road to victory.
Marhley led the Lakes with 17 points on the night. Caleb Gregoire had 11 points. Cole Gregoire sunk 10.
“We work hard and make a lot of good things (happen), but (we) never (make) enough plays at the end,” said Kumpula.
For Calumet, Trevor Torola led the scoring with 16. Bevin Antilla poured in 15 and Eli McParlan had 14.
Interestingly, both the Copper Kings and Lakes enter the final week of the regular season at 8-10.
On Tuesday, Calumet will travel to Negaunee. Lake Linden will host Hancock.
Lake Linden 10 10 12 14 – 46
Calumet 16 12 15 15 – 58
LLH (46): Marhley 17, Codere 2, Ca. Gregoire 11, Co. Gregoire 10, Sutherland 6; Fouls: 15; FTs: 7-11; 3-point field goals: Sutherland 2
CHS (58): Antilla 15, Kangas 4, Congdon 1, McParlan 14, Twardzik 6, Torola 16, Kytta 2; Fouls: 14; FTs: 7-8; 3-point field goals: Antilla 2, Torola 1