Although the Alpena Community College men's basketball team fell to Mid-Michigan Community College 84-74 in its season opener, there were signs of hope that the relatively young team could come together.
This was especially noticeable in the second half. Trailing 75-59 with 4:42 left in the game, the Lumberjacks outscored the Lakers 12-2 to narrow the lead to 77-72.
"We finally figured out (during the scoring streak), that if we're a basketball team, all we got to do is be a basketball team," Alpena coach Frank McCourt said.
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Dion Ivery (23) of Alpena Community College looks to move past Kaleb Nealy (25) of Mid-Michigan College during the Lumberjacks’ season opener on Wednesday. The Lumberjacks lost 84-74.
This streak started when Jarod Jones hit back-to-back treys to sneak up to 77-65. A steal 20 seconds later and Dion Ivery scored to narrow the game to 77-67.
The Lumberjacks shut down the Lakers until 2:43 remained and Cory Lamp hit a bucket. Thirty seconds later, he drew a foul after sinking another basket. His successful free throw put the Lumberjacks within five points of overcoming Mid-Michigan.
ACC's comeback came at the end of a game that saw the Lakers mostly in control. ACC took a quick 7-3 lead in the first three minutes after Logan Wickert nailed a three-pointer.
However, the Lumberjacks were scoreless for nearly seven minutes, by which point the Lakers had taken a 17-10 lead.
The Lakers were consistently led by Erick Layton, who scored 11 points in the first half. RayShon Thomas consistently snagged enough rebounds to prevent second or third chances at the basket as ACC fell further and further behind.
However, the offensive play of Travon Howard and Ivery helped keep Mid-Michigan from pulling too far ahead. Howard scored 11 points in the first half while Ivery scored five.
Defensively, sophomore William Gates Jr. took charge by shouting commands at his teammates and keeping ACC's defensive positioning in place.
Although they struggled offensively and couldn't narrow the lead, ACC defensively held the Lakers to a 42-29 lead at the end of the half.
The Lakers continued to play strong offensively, with Tevor Gernaat hitting three treys in the first seven minutes of the second half. Gernaat's sharp shots helped the Lakers pull to a 63-43 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Bright spots for ACC in this stretch included a three by Ivery and seven points in a row from Howard in under a minute.
The Lumberjacks never fell behind by more than 20 again as they successfully shut down the perimeter shooting that had crippled them early in the second half.
However, Mid-Michigan's Cody Johnson remained a perpetual scorer for his team. The Lumberjacks, by comparision, couldn't seem to drop the shot, in spite of several close calls by freshmen Ray'Shon Anderson and Jones.
With just about six minutes to play, Howard fouled out and ACC was left without its biggest contributor of the night.
ACC played its most consistent ball in the first five and last five minutes of the half. Its late game streak looked like it would turn the game around, as the crowd roared in appreciation, but it was too little too late.
"We didn't play very well. They played four games against real good competition. It was our first game, so it was a learning experience for us. We fundamentally didn't play well at all. I'm hoping that playing some games will make that better," McCourt said.
ACC plays again in Muskegon next Friday in the East/West Classic.
MID-MICHIGAN (84): J. Wilson 3-4-6-11; E. Layton 4-7-8-16; C. Johnson 7-6-7-20; T. Gernaat 6-0-2-15; K. Shomin 3-5-9-11; K. Nealy 2-0-0-5; B. Schmidt 1-2-2-4; R. Thomas 2-0-2-2.
ALPENA (74): T. Howard 9-3-3-23; W. Gates 2-2-4-6; C. Lamp 2-1-1-5; D. Ivery 5-3-6-15; J. Jones 2-2-2-8; L. Wickert 3-0-0-7; E. Thompson 2-0-0-4; S. Hicks 2-2-5-6.