HANCOCK - Jeffers boys' basketball coach Duane Snell had a special practice over the weekend to prepare for Hancock's big center Alex Almquist Monday night.
But the strategy was not needed as the 6-foot-7 Almquist missed the non-conference game because of a concussion suffered last week against Houghton.
"We would have preferred to have played with him (Almquist) out there," Snell said after his team's 53-42 victory. "You always want the other team's best ... but we still had to play our game ... and get a win here."
Jeffers’ Alex Outinen is closely guarded by Hancock’s Matt Yao (14)?and Sean Patchin (54)?during the first half of Monday’s game at Hancock. (Paul Peterson photo)
It was evident that Almquist's 26 points and 12 rebounds per game were sorely missed, but HCHS coach Curtis Wittenberg offered no excuses.
"Sure, it's going to hurt you not having a player like Alex in there." Wittenberg said. "But it was a chance to have some other guys step up and we didn't get that tonight.
"They (Jets) were focused in on Shane (Raasio) and we didn't get him to attack the basket enough."
Jeffers 8 16 15 14 - 53
Hancock 10 12 6 14 - 42
Jeffers - Alex Outinen 7, Chris Outinen 2; Tyler Andrews 10, Troy Kinnunen 22, Zach Nicholas 6, Myles Rajala 4, Jon Lehto 2. FT: 8-10; Rebounds: 29 (Andrews 7); Fouls: 18; Fouled out: Rajala; 3-point FG: Kinnunen 4, Nicholas 2.
Hancock - Matt Yao 5, Riley Engman 2, Shane Raasio 17, Brian Kass 16, Sean Manderfield 2. FT: 14-22; Rebounds: 27 (Raasio 8); Fouls: 14; Fouled out: Engman; 3-point FG: Raasio and Yao 1.
Jets senior guard Troy Kinnunen took over the game in the second half, netting 14 of his game-best 22 points.
"We look for Troy to do that," Snell said. "He took a couple of questionable shots late in the game, but he made some big plays when we needed them. That's the kind of player he is."
The shorthanded Bulldogs managed a 10-8 lead after one quarter and were down by only a 24-22 margin at the half as Brian Kass and Raasio played well.
But the third period belonged to the Range boys as senior center Tyler Andrews played a key role.
"I thought Tyler Andrews and Myles Rajala, who are our big men, played pretty well," Snell said. "Tyler gives us some muscle underneath and we needed him to get physical under the basket."
A 15-6 edge in the third frame boosted the Jets into a 39-28 lead at quarter's end and the shooting of Kinnunen and Alex Outinen made sure the lead would be preserved.
"We didn't get after them the way we should have until it was too late," Wittenberg said. "We didn't play with a lot of intensity in this game."
Now 3-1 on the year, the Jets were paced by Kinnunen's 22 points and four assists. Andrews added 10 points and grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds. Alex Outinen contributed seven points and made five steals in a solid floor game.
The Bulldogs, who are 0-5 on the season, received 17 points and eight rebounds from the steady Raasio. Kass put in 16 more points.
The Jets travel to Lake Linden-Hubbell for a non-league game Thursday. Hancock is idle until a Jan. 2 game at Chassell.