HOUGHTON - Going into the locker room at halftime, the Houghton Gremlins looked shaky at best. Coming out, they proved terrifying on both ends of the floor.
The Gremlins' full-court pressure busted L'Anse open for 29 third-quarter points as Houghton ran away with a 71-50 WestPAC win.
"It was what we've been trying to get at in practice. I told them we just need to get back to what we've been doing in practice all preseason long, which is our conditioning, working to go full court all the game, and getting back to our offense and trusting our offense," Houghton coach Jared Lawson said.
Houghton’s Trent Keteri pulls up for the three after L’Anse’s Joe Hansen makes an unsuccessful bid for a steal in the third quarter of their game Thursday. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
After a passable start, Houghton fell behind by as many as seven in the second quarter as junior forward Jimmy Veker asserted himself with 10 points in the frame. After the half, Veker had just two as L'Anse was thrown completely out of sync by the Gremlin press.
"We feel with the pressure we want to get it immediate instead of letting them have an opportunity to survey, take a look at where it is," Lawson said. "Our key is getting those first one or two traps and if it works, it'll be very successful. It it doesn't, of course, you're chasing the ball. Tonight we weren't chasing the ball very much."
Houghton, which trailed 28-25 at the half, opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run before Keith Denomie's putback put the visitors on the board.
L'Anse 11 17 8 14 - 50
Houghton 10 15 29 17 - 71
L'Anse - Jacob Ostermeyer 14, Jimmy Veker 14, Brett Martinez 7, Keith Denomie 7, Joe Hansen 4, Logan Roe 2, Daniel Perrow 2; FT: 13-15; Fouls: 20; Fouled out: Perrow; 3-point field goals: Ostermeyer 2, Denomie 1.
Houghton - Ryan LaBerge 23, Cody Goodreau 13, Trent Keteri 9, Zack Ohtonen 8, Eli Lilleskov 8, Kyle Mattson 6, Thomas Strome 4; FT: 18-26; Fouls: 15; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: LaBerge 4, Keteri 3.
L'Anse clawed back to within two with 3:10 left in the frame, only for things to really go haywire from there. Houghton ended the third quarter on a 16-0 run and scored the first three points of the fourth, essentially icing its second win of the season with a 57-36 lead with seven minutes to play.
"Their pressure gave us problems early and we didn't show any composure. Once they got a run it snowballed on us," L'Anse coach Mike Ostermeyer said.
L'Anse's inability to find an offense in the second half was one problem, but its inability to recover on the defensive end did it in. Ryan LaBerge scored nine of his game-high 23 points in the third, Trent Keteri hit three triples and Cody Goodreau scored six points.
Ostermeyer pointed the blame upon himself over his team playing "no defense."
"In the second half, they spread us out a little bit and they beat us off the dribble somewhat. We just lacked intensity," he said.
Goodreau finished with 13 for the Gremlins (2-0, 1-0 WestPAC), who host Escanaba Monday night.
Jacob Ostermeyer and Veker co-led L'Anse (1-1, 0-1) with 14 points apiece.
The Purple Hornets, who won the JV game 55-48, will regroup for a Monday home debut vs. Westwood.