The Alpena Community College men's basketball team showed that it has a lot of room for growth after its season opener.
The Lumberjacks fell behind 42-25 at the half on Friday and ultimately lost 80-49 to Kalamazoo Valley in the East/West Classic at Park Arena.
Lavario Smith scored 20 points for the Lumberjacks (0-1), who had a couple good offensive spurts, but couldn't do much to slow the hot-shooting Cougars who used a strong all-around game to win.
"There's a lot of room to grow. When we got behind, our heads went down and we can't do that," ACC coach Frank McCourt said. "Kalamazoo Valley is a good basketball team."
Keegan Leblance led Kalamazoo with 15 points and Jevonte Hughes added 14. Leblance was on fire from beyond the arc, going 5-for-8 on three pointers.
The two teams played tight to begin the contest, but the Cougars pulled ahead with a 24-5 run over a nearly five-minute span that left the Lumberjacks struggling to catch up the rest of the way. Kalamazoo outrebounded ACC 46-31 and only committed 10 turnovers compared with ACC's 23.
Logan Wickert had seven points for the Lumberjacks and William Gates Jr. had six.
Despite trailing near the end of the first half, ACC got a bit of a boost when Gates and Smith each hit a trey in the final 30 seconds. The Lumberjacks couldn't capitalize in the opening minutes of the second half however and Kalamazoo built a 54-30 lead in the first six minutes.
The Lumberjacks kept pace with the Cougars the rest of the way, but couldn't slow them down long enough to pull within striking distance. Alpena made just 50 percent of its free throws (11-of-22) and struggled to contain the Cougars' outside shooting. Leblance made four of his five treys in the second half and two in the final two minutes.
McCourt was pleased to see a strong game from Smith, who was playing his first game with the Lumberjacks in two seasons. But McCourt stressed that if the Lumberjacks are going to get better, they need to grow together.
"Lavario's a sophomore. He's been here before," McCourt said. "They need to grow as a team; not as individuals. They're all very nice young men, but they need to grow together as a team."
The Lumberjacks play Muskegon tonight at 8 p.m.
In the early game on Friday, St. Clair defeated Muskegon 65-59.
KALAMAZOO VALLEY (80): Mitchell-Fie 3 2-2 8; Griffin 3 0-0 6; Hughes 7 0-0 14; McCants-Wilson 2 0-0 4; Moore 3 0-0 6; Ryan 1 0-2 2; Hancock 3 0-0 8; Leblance 5 0-0 15; Oliver 2 2-3 7; Buchanan 3 0-0 6; Johnson 2 0-0 4
ALPENA (49): Berryman 1 0-0 2; Smith 6 5-7 20; Strong 0 0-1 0; Dailey 2 1-2 5; Hentkowski 0 0-1 0; Withey 1 2-2 5; Wickert 2 3-6 7; Gates Jr. 2 0-1 6; Lamp 1 0-1 2; Mustafaa 1 0-1 2