Strong start propels Hurons to win over Saints

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Rogers City’s Ethan Hincka (24) goes up between a pair of St. Ignace defenders and scores a layup during the third quarter of a boys basketball game on Friday at Rogers City High School.

ROGERS CITY — The Rogers City boys basketball team played with a ton of energy and flew all over the court on Friday. The Hurons’ superb effort at both ends of the floor led them to convincing 60-22 win over St. Ignace.

“We had a maximum effort. I thought a couple plays we took off, but that’s been our motto over Christmas break is we needed to get better at playing the game for 32 minutes. I think tonight we played for about 28 solid minutes,” Rogers City coach Matt Ponik said. “We were playing our style of basketball which is getting up and down and setting up our plays when it wasn’t there and we were more under control I think.”

The Hurons got off to a fast start, scoring the first seven points of the game.

Rogers City made life difficult for the Saints and disrupted the St. Ignace offense by getting into the passing lanes and forcing several turnovers which led to more opportunities.

Despite all of the opportunities, the Hurons struggled putting the ball in the hoop at times in the opening quarter, but still held an 11-4 lead after one. Their ability to force St. Ignace into bad situations eventually led to easy baskets and the shots began to fall as the game went on.

“I think this will be a good confidence booster for us moving forward. St. Ignace is a storied program, they’re a little down this year, but any time you get a win, you start to actually put things together and it’s a confidence builder for sure,” Ponik said. “I think a win like this is going to help us and it’s something we needed, because at times this season we struggled, but overall I think we’re doing pretty good.”

The Hurons kept extending the lead in the second quarter and finished the half strong by scoring the final nine points to take a commanding 32-11 lead into the break.

Rogers City came out of the locker room with the same hustle and intensity as it did in the the first half and the lead continued to grow for the Hurons as they held a 52-16 lead after three quarters and cruised to lopsided win.

It was a balanced effort all around for Rogers City as everyone saw plenty of game time and all but one player on the Rogers City roster cracked the scoring column.

The Hurons were led by J.D. Ellenberger who scored 14 points. Nick Freel finished with 12 points, Kaleb Budnick collected nine points, Ethan Hincka added six points and Matt Newhouse and Luke Tulgestke each chipped in with five points apiece.

“I thought we did a better job stopping the ball tonight and not allowing straight drives to the basket and we rebounded much better tonight. We were fighting for every loose ball and that’s what I expect to see. Overall, I’m very impressed with where we’re going,” Ponik said. “My goal is to give guys meaningful minutes that might not get the time. It’s a team game. It’s great to see guys get in the scoring column and it’s cool to see the team to see other guys do well and that’s what I’m most impressed about having.”

“You never know what can happen and you’re going to need guys and need bench players and that’s why I coach the same to each guy. I want full effort from everyone on the roster. I just want my guys to compete. My goal for these guys is for them to compete and if they do that, at the end of if they did what they’re supposed to, then you should have a chance to win.”

Rogers City improves to 4-3 overall on the season and will return to the court on Monday when they travel to Hillman in a key North Star League matchup.

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BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free-throws made/Free-throws attempted/Total points

ROGERS CITY (60): N. Freel, 5 1-2 12; L. Tulgestke, 2 1-2 5; J. Ellenberger, 5 2-3 14; M. Newhouse, 1 2-4 5; D. Ross, 1 0-0 2; E. Hincka, 2 2-6 5; L. Fleming, 2 1-2 3; K. Budnick, 4 1-4 9; D. Flewelling, 1 2-5 4.

ST. IGNACE (22): S. Livingston, 2 0-0 4; E. North 2 0-0 4; T. Shepard, 3 2-6 8; J. Durenbecker, 2 1-2 6.