Lumberjacks play well despite loss to Lakers

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena Community College guard, Michael Stuart, center, drives to the basket while being defended by Mid Michigan’s Westin Myles (21) during a men’s basketball game on Saturday at Park Arena. Also pictured for Mid Michigan are Caleb Paksi (34) and Kareem Alamm.

Moral victories don’t equal wins in the record books, but the Alpena Community College men’s basketball team earned one on Saturday.

The Lumberjacks never stopped fighting, but were ultimately defeated by Mid Michigan 79-69 at Park Arena.

Alpena (1-5) trailed by as many as 16 in the second half, but rallied to within ten points in the last two minutes. Michael Sturt sank a triple with 3:20 left to make it 75-67 and then scored again with 1:19 remaining to pull the Lumberjacks to within seven, 76-69.

The Lumberjacks couldn’t get any closer however, missing several three-point attempts before the Lakers iced the game at the free throw line.

It was a disappointing loss for the Lumberjacks, who fell to the Lakers 87-81 last month and have lost three games by 10 points or less. Alpena coach Mark Jacobs however praised his team’s effort as its best of the season.

“That’s what I’m most proud of (the effort). I’m extremely disappointed in the loss and I’m not a big moral victory guy, but this is the most proud of my guys I’ve been this year,” Jacobs said. “They (Mid Michigan) were an excellent team. They were well-coached.”

Spence DeMull, Colin Carter and Colton Antes each scored 15 points for the Lakers and five different Mid Michigan players reached double figures. Spencer Johnston added 12 and Caleb Paksi had 10.

Alpena couldn’t match the Lakers’ balance on offense and ran into foul trouble at some critical times. The Lumberjacks began the game on an 8-0 run, but the Lakers quickly caught up and Alpena had to change things up a bit after Jameson Pierrelus was sent to the bench with two early fouls.

Pierrelus, who led the Lumberjacks with 17 points, provided a much-needed spark for Alpena in the second half. He scored 15 of his 17 points and continually muscled his way inside to score important buckets for the Lumberjacks.

“They couldn’t stop him, but we need to work on that (staying out of early foul trouble),” Jacobs said. “They’re going to go at him because he’s a big, strong, quick guy.”

Pierrelus caught fire at just the right time. With 14:55 left to play, Mid Michigan scored to make it 60-44, putting the Lumberjacks in their biggest hole of the night. Pierrelus took over from there, scoring eight points during a 10-1 run that pulled Alpena to within seven with 11:27 left.

The Lumberjacks stayed close for several minutes, but couldn’t get over the hump. Alpena cut Mid Michigan’s lead to nine with 6:45 left, but couldn’t slow the Lakers’ offense enough to get closer.

Stuart added 16 points for Alpena, Oliver Rice had 10 and Tristan Smith added nine, drawing praise from Jacobs for his play down low.

Despite letting their early lead slip in the first half, the Lumberjacks matched the Lakers’ intensity and stayed within striking distance for much of the period. Mid Michigan got a burst of momentum late in the first half and outscored the Lumberjacks 10-2 in the last 2:41 to take a 45-34 lead at halftime.

Alpena is off until Dec. 29 when it plays in the Quality Inn & Suites Tournament in Escanaba.

“I’ve said this a million times, but it’s a process. I want the wins now, but they will come. Everybody’s bought into the system. We’re not big, but we hustle,” Jacobs said. “I think we mentally and physically took a step tonight (and showed) that we can play with anybody.”

——

MID MICHIGAN (79):S. DeMull 5 5-6 15; C. Carter 6 2-4 15; K. Alamm 1 0-0 3; C. Antes 5 2-2 15; S. Johnston 4 3-6 12; N. Colon 2 0-0 4; C. Paksi 4 2-710; C. Gernaat 0 0-1 0; G. Cage 2 0-0 5; W. Myles 0 0-1 0.

ALPENA (69): M. Stuart 7 0-0 16; K. Brewer 3 0-0 7; D. Chilton 1 0-0 2; J. Pierrelus 5 6-8 17; D. Tucker 1 0-0 3; O. Rice 3 2-2 10; A. Bell 2 0-0 5; T. Smith 2 5-8 9.