The winless Alpena Community College men's basketball watched as the formerly winless ACC women's team won their first game of the season against the struggling Sault College Cougars early on Friday night and hoped to pick up a win of their own.
Although they came close to overtaking the Cougars at times, the Lumberjacks ended up losing 69-62 at Park Arena.
ACC coach Frank McCourt was not pleased with his team's play.
"Until we give away our individual egos and play as a team and for the team and focus on defense and avoiding turnovers, we're never going to get any better," he said.
The first half started out strong for the Lumberjacks (0-5) as Lavario Smith sunk a few field goals and helped the Lumberjacks take an early10-5 lead four and a half minutes into the game. However, an early three point shot by Sault's Danny MacDonald showed what would be the curse for the Lumberjacks: the uncannily accurate three point shots of the Cougars.
MacDonald had four three point shots in the half while Jason Ledgister hit two. The Cougars were also more accurate in the half with their free throws, hitting 10-of-16 while the Lumberjacks hit 5-of-12.
ACC's early 10-5 lead shrunk quickly as the Cougars took over 15-14. The Lumberjacks continued to stretch their lead as the Lumberjacks struggled offensively. The ball slipped out of their fingers repeatedly and into the hands of the Cougars too often.
However, the Lumberjacks played stronger in the last five minutes of the half, hitting two threes and two out of three free throws to outscore the Cougars 10-5 to narrow the Cougars lead to 38-28 at the half.
The Cougars stayed deadly with the three pointers into the second half. The Lumberjacks were able to fight to within six points, 40-34, early in the second half, but MacDonald hit two threes and scored a field goal while Ledgister scored another three to extend Sault's lead to 51-34.
The Lumberjacks increased their defensive pressure which included strong steals and blocks by Smith and Sean Berryman. Berryman nailed a slam dunk at one point which energized the packed crowd. Several Smith and Josh O'Connor field goals helped narrow the score down to a 60-48 lead.
The Cougars continued to show more accuracy with their free throws which continued to haunt the Lumberjacks chances of catching up. They hit 12-of-18 while the Lumberjacks hit 4-of 8.
With 7:36 left to play, the Lumberjacks were down 60-50 at which point they began a strong offensive stretch. Logan Wickert began nailing field goals and hit a trey. William Gates Jr. came in and hit a three while the Cougars turned the ball over to the Lumberjacks over and over again.
The Lumberjacks outscored the Cougars 12-9 in the last minutes of the game but it wasn't enough to make up the difference .
McCourt was not pleased with the ACC's comeback.
"It was a good comeback because the other team was tired. There should never have been a need for a comeback in the first place," he said.
ACC plays the Sault again today at 3 p.m.
SAULT (69): D. MacDonald 7-4-4-24; R. Rysdale 1-4-6-6; A. Kojo 2-1-6-5; A. Brown 3-5-6-11; H. Taylor 2-1-2-5; J. Ledgister 4-2-4-13; K. Ramos 0-2-2-2; S. Ellis 0-1-2-1; A. Prince Barnes 0-2-2-2.
ALPENA (62): S. Hentkowski 1-0-1-2; S. Berryman 4-3-6-11; J. Strong 1-0-0-2; L. Smith 8-3-7-19; L. Wickert 6-1-3-16; W. Gates Jr. 2-0-0-6; C. Lamp 1-2-2-4; J. O'Connor 1-0-1-2.