Lumberjacks downed by Delta

By JAMES ANDERSEN

News Sports Editor

Alpena Community College men’s basketball coach Frank McCourt will be quick to tell you an important key to winning games is playing well for a full 40 minutes.

If not, a team usually doesn’t win.

The Lumberjacks found that out the hard way on Wednesday, falling short in an 86-78 loss to Delta on Monday at Park Arena.

ACC (3-15, 1-10 MCCAA Eastern) led by four at halftime, but trailed most of the second half. The Lumberjacks fought to within five points of the Pioneers with 1:18 left, but that was as close as they got.

“We played well for a half. We didn’t match up in the second half. They beat us on the baseline all night and they continued to do it,” McCourt said.

Joe Duncan hit one of two free throws with 1:18 left to make it 83-78, but the Pioneers answered with a basket with 49 seconds left, which proved enough to seal the deal as the Lumberjacks didn’t foul in the time remaining. “The decision was we were going to force them to shoot, miss, we were going to score and call a timeout,” McCourt said.

The Lumberjacks led 43-39 at halftime, but the Pioneers proved to be too athletic and talented to slow down in the second half. With Jacob Thomann controlling the post and several forwards connecting from outside and attacking inside, Delta proved to be a tough matchup. The Pioneers threw down several dunks in the contest and weren’t afraid to drive inside with many players slashing their way in for easy baskets.

Allante Wheeler and Martel Handley led Delta with 17 points each, Tyler Ellis had 11 points and Jonathan Swift and Thomann each had 10 points.

Former Hillman standout Mason VanPamel finished with three points, hitting a three-pointer with 12:50 left to give the Pioneers a 63-54 lead.

Delta opened the second half on an 11-3 run and took the lead for good with 16:09 left to play. Shots proved to be too few and far between for the Lumberjacks as they struggled to finish at the basket and struggled from three-point range.

The Lumberjacks finished the night with 11 triples, but struggled to connect in the second half until the final minutes, when they hit three in the last five minutes. The Lumberjacks couldn’t get much going inside as ACC players found themselves swarmed by Delta’s defense.

“We tried to go inside, but they shut (Andy) Marwede right down,” McCourt said.

Duncan led ACC with24 points, Marwede added 21 and Johann Grondahl had 20.

Delta led by as many as 16 in the second half before the Lumberjacks rallied back in the final minutes. Duncan hit a trey with 3:29 left to make it 79-74 and after a Delta basket, Grondahl buried a longball to make it 81-77 with about three minutes left.

Despite their second half struggles, the Lumberjacks showed their resiliency in the first half. After Delta raced out to a 20-5 lead to start the game, McCourt called timeouts on consecutive possessions to get ACC to refocus.

“I told them they needed to play better. Our defense has got to be better and we have to match up. We were standing around and you can guard a spot, you have to guard the man.”

The Lumberjacks got McCourt’s message and rallied back the rest of the half. ACC drained three consecutive three-pointers to make it 36-35 with 3:33 left and Trenton LaVergne gave ACC its first lead with 1:12 to play. He tied the game 39-39 after taking a pass inside from Duncan and followed with a baseline floater to give ACC the lead. A basket from Marwede with 34 seconds left gave ACC a four-point halftime lead.

ACC continues its homestand on Wednesday and will play Macomb at 7:30 p.m.

DELTA (86): M. Handley 8 1-3 17; J. Swift 3 2-3 10; W. Williams 1 0-1 2; T. Ellis 5 0-0 11; J. Thompson 3 2-4 8; D. Smith 4 0-2 8; M. VanPamel 1 0-0 3; A. Wheeler 7 3-4 17; J. Thomann 5 0-0 10.

ALPENA (78): J. Duncan 5 11-13 24; A. Marwede 8 3-4 21; J. Grondahl 6 3-3 20; T. LaVergne 2 4-4 8; C. Tucker 1 0-0 2; K. Adams 1 0-0 3.