Black, VanDusen star in Wildcats’ victory

TRENTON — The Alpena High hockey team was ready to be put to the test as they traveled to Trenton for the MIHL Showcase held at the Kennedy Recreation Center.

The Wildcats were one of 42 teams at the showcase as many of the top high school hockey clubs across all three divisions will be competing this weekend.

Alpena passed its first test on Friday, defeating the No. 8 ranked team in Division 3, Flint Powers (14-3-2) by a final score of 3-1 thanks to another stellar performance in net from senior Cooper Black who stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced and Kyle VanDusen who recorded a natural hat trick, scoring all three goals in the victory for the ninth-ranked Wildcats.

“This is a big win and great for our program to come down to a tournament like this and get this opening win,” Alpena coach Chris Limback said.

Powers looked like top-ranked team and put a lot of pressure on the Wildcats in the opening period.

The Chargers opened the scoring just over two and a half minutes into the game when Lance Mullin fired a shot at Black who made the initial save. Tyler Lawrence slid the puck past Black after a scramble in front of the net. At first the goal had been waved off, but the officials got together and awarded Lawrence with the goal.

Powers’ forechecking was the difference early on as they controlled play, but less than three minutes later VanDusen found the back of the net on assists from Brett Ciupka and Colby Plowman as Alpena tied the game 1-1.

The Wildcats killed off a five-minute power play midway through the frame and Black made several big saves in the opening period as Powers outshot Alpena 13-4.

Alpena picked up the pace in the final two periods and took the lead with 7:58 left in the second period when VanDusen lit the lamp on a great individual effort. After winning a faceoff in the Powers end, VanDusen took the puck right to the front of goaltender Brent Zloto and slid a backhander between his legs to put the Wildcats up 2-1.

Alpena took a two-goal lead with under three minutes to play in the second period as Evan Kraenzlein sent a pass over to VanDusen beat Zloto on the short side for the third time to record a natural hat trick.

“Not being able to practice this week because of the weather worried me and I was happy to be tied 1-1 after the first period. When your goalie is great, the penalty kill is strong,” Limback said. “Some of our kids really stepped up and this is the weekend where you get to showcase your talents. We just showed some resiliency today and there’s a different vibe around here with upwards of 160 scouts here and it’s a great event to be apart of.”

The Wildcats were able to play solid hockey in the final period and Black was once again phenomenal between the pipes making big saves down the stretch to preserve the lead.

Powers pulled Zloto with 2:17 left to play, but Alpena sent out its “PVC” line to finish the game as Plowman, VanDusen and Alex Cosbitt were on the ice in the final minutes to help the Wildcats skate away with another impressive victory and bringing their record to 14-4-1 on the year.

Alpena will return to the Kennedy Recreation Center at 10:40 a.m. Saturday in their final game of the weekend against another ranked opponent in Division 3, No. 14 ranked Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

“Depending on how we do this year goes a long way in determining if we can come back again. The MIHL brings many of the top teams from around the state to this showcase each year, so it was nice for us to come away with a win and we’ll just enjoy the rest of the day,” Limback said. “We need to come back with the same effort tomorrow against another quality team.”

BOYS BASKETBALL

Oscoda 41, Mio 34

OSCODA–In a battle of the top two teams in the North Star League’s Big Dipper division, Oscoda came out on top.

Again.

Owen Franklin scored 12 points, Gabe Kellstrom added 10 and the Owls improved to 14-0 on the season with a 41-34 win over Mio on Friday at Oscoda High School.

Jacob Post added eight points for the Owls and Drew Hess paced Mio with 16 points.

Oscoda improves to 8-0 in league play and now holds a two-game lead over the Thunderbolts. Oscoda had previously defeated Mio 35-33 in Mio in December.

Both teams are back in action on Tuesday. Oscoda plays at Tawas and Mio hosts Rogers City.

Rogers City 67, Whittemore-Prescott 27

WHITTEMORE–A balanced scoring effort and effective second-half defense propelled the Rogers City boys basketball team to a win on Friday.

Nick Freel scored 20 points, Ethan Hincka added 15 and the Hurons defeated Whittemore-Prescott 67-27 in a North Star League contest to win their fourth straight game.

Rogers City (10-4) led 28-21 at halftime, but cranked up its efforts on both ends of the floor in the second half. The Hurons outscored Whittemore 16-0 in the third quarter and 29-6 in the second half.

Offensively, the Hurons were balanced with J.D. Ellenberger added 10 points and Lewis Flemming and Kaleb Budnick each chipping in with six.

Dana Thorson paced Whittemore with nine.

Rogers City plays at Mio on Tuesday.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Onaway 46, Central Lake 44

CENTRAL LAKE–Kennedy Crawford scored 15 points, Calley Selke added 10 and the Onaway girls basketball team took Central Lake’s best shot and came out the winner on Friday, beating the Trojans 46-44.

Onaway (8-4) led 19-10 after one quarter, 29-23 at halftime and 39-35 after three quarters.

Central Lake ultimately came up a few points short, despite outscoring Onaway 9-7 in the final quarter.

“We played really well and were disciplined,” Onaway coach John George said. “(Late in the game), we played a little keep away on our last few possessions and that worked pretty well.”

Onaway will play at Inland Lakes on Tuesday in a makeup game and is scheduled to host Fife Lake Forest Area on Wednesday.

Alcona 41, Hale 31

LINCOLN–Megan Grove scored 16 points and the Alcona girls basketball team overcame a slow start to beat Hale on Friday, 41-31, at home.

Alcona (8-4) trailed 19-18 at halftime, but pulled ahead 26-24 after three quarters and outscored the Eagles 15-7 in the final quarter.

“We had a slow start but played much better in the second half. Some of it may have been that there was no school all week,  but we had a hard time getting going tonight,” Alcona coach Mark Feldhiser said. “It was a win and our third in a row, so we will take it and move on to the next one. The girls did a good job of closing out the game.”

Rachel Layton added eight points for Alcona, which will play at Whittemore-Prescott on Monday.

Alcona’s JV team defeated Hale 56-20. Avery Wrobel had 23 to lead Alcona and Ashland Gordy had 17.

Cadillac 64, Alpena 43

CADILLAC–The Alpena girls basketball team’s return to the court on Friday was a rough one.

Playing their first game in two weeks, the Wildcats fell behind Cadillac in the second half and lost 64-43 in a Big North Conference contest.

Alpena (5-6, 3-3 Big North) tied Cadillac 12-12 after one quarter, but trailed 32-24 at halftime and 47-35 after three quarters. The Vikings put the nail in the coffin by outscoring Alpena 17-7 in the final eight minutes.

Alpena hosts Cheboygan at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

At press time, individual scoring for the game was not reported.

Oscoda 58, Mio 38

MIO–Lauren Langley scored 22 points, Katelyn Etherton added 18 and the Oscoda girls basketball team defeated Mio 58-38 on Thursday.

The win improves Oscoda to 11-0 overall on the season.

Macy Kellstrom added eight points for the Owls in the victory.

Oscoda will host Tawas on Monday.

Oscoda’s JV team defeated Mio 43-18 to improve to 11-0. Andrea Bickel led Oscoda with 10 points and Megan Myles and Olvia Toppi each had nine.