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Ogemaw too much, tames Alcona in non-league showdown

Courtesy Photo/Ben Murphy Alcona’s DJ Howe takes on heavy contacts as he puts up a shot during Tuesday’s home loss to Ogemaw Heights.

LINCOLN–Oscoda on Monday. Ogemaw Heights on Tuesday.

Playing two of the better teams in the area isn’t exactly the start to a week that most boys basketball teams would envy.

That’s just what Alcona was up against, however, as they capped off their challenging two-day span with a 55-30 non-conference setback to visiting Ogemaw; a day after a tough loss to Oscoda.

“We knew that this was going to be a tough week for us, and with not a lot of great practices to prepare for this week and it kind of showed,” Alcona coach Ryan Bilbey said. “The last two games we have played OK for a quarter, maybe it is the first, maybe it is the third but we can’t seem to string them together. We struggled offensively the last two nights, especially tonight where we just didn’t have our rhythm, we were going away from our offense and we weren’t playing with confidence.”

It was certainly rough sledding early on for the Tigers, who fell to 2-2 with the back-to-back losses. Ogemaw implemented a full court press that caused havoc, creating nine first quarter turnovers. The Falcons routinely turned those Alcona miscues into easy buckets the other way and added a pair of three pointers to boot, including one by Hudson Hodgins moments before the quarter break to race to a 21-4 lead.

“We have eight guys on varsity, that’s the first time I have had that few, so it is really tough to simulate good pressure like you are going to see in games,” Bilbey said. “That is one of the things that I stress to them, is that you have to practice how you are going to play. You have to go at it 100% because that is the situation you are going to get into. I know as the season goes on we are going to get better with the pressure; it is early and it is a goofy year but we are struggling with it because we are panicking a little bit.”

Hodgins began the second quarter with another three pointer to stake the Falcons to a 24-4 lead, though DJ Howe, who battled foul trouble for most of the night, was able to answer for the Tigers by cutting through the lane, taking in an entry pass and sending a close-range shot through the net.

Alcona could only add lay-ups by Jacob Sytek and Hunter Rigby the rest of the half however, as Ogemaw held a 28-10 lead at the break.

The Tigers had a brief glimmer of hope at the start of the third quarter. Howe sent home a trey from the right corner and Chris Barnes followed that up with a jumper from just inside the arc, drawing them within 28-15.

Ogemaw quickly squashed those hopes however, ending the third on a 14-3 run to lead 42-18 entering the fourth, all but ending thoughts of an Alcona comeback.

“We came out and knocked a couple shots down, executed a few things that we talked about at half time and that was good to see,” Bilbey said. “We just couldn’t maintain any kind of momentum and that’s hard; and it is hard in a gym with not many people. It was quiet as a mouse out there so that is hard for them too.”

Howe, who finished with nine points on the night, was able to net four points in the final stanza as the night played out to the 55-30 final.

Also contributing offensively for the Tigers was Barnes who finished with seven points, Jacob Sytek scored six, Rigby netted five, Zach Stephenson had two and Gavin Walker chipped in with one.

“One bright spot was Rigby, he came out and gave us some fire tonight,” Bilbey said. “We have to build on that and get it to spread to some of the others on the team. I was really happy with his intensity out there.”

Alcona heads to Rogers City on Friday for a North Star League Big Dipper showdown.

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