CHASSELL - Lake Linden-Hubbell ended one mission in Chassell's gym Tuesday. A week from tonight, another begins.
The Lakes dismantled the Panthers 22-4 in the second quarter and went on to a 67-52 victory in their Copper Country Conference finale, completing a perfect 10-0 run through the league.
"We just had to get the pressure back up. Playing those bigger schools, we haven't had the pressure. Defensively, I was very happy tonight with the way we came out and the way we played. When we play that kind of basketball, we're tough to beat and that's what we need," LL-H coach Jack Kumpula said.
Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Trevor Ongie attempts a lay-up around Chassell defender Evan Huhta in the fourth quarter Tuesday in Chassell. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The Lakes (14-5 overall) have gone 3-5 in their last eight games, but three of those losses were to Class C teams in L'Anse, Calumet and Houghton, and the other two were to state-ranked Ewen-Trout Creek. Given a chance to pick on someone their own size, LL-H threw its weight around. In 10 CCC games, LL-H played only one decided by less than 18 points.
"It was up-tempo. We played the way we wanted. We put a lot of pressure on Ryynanen and Pietila and we did a really nice job defensively, and that turned into some good looks offensively," Kumpula said.
Though the Lakes led just 12-10 after the first, they found their dominant form in the next eight minutes.
LL-Hubbell12 22 21 12- 67
Chassell 10 4 20 18 - 52
Lake Linden-Hubbell - Tyler Roose 19, Cody Kumpula 9, Brett Poissant 9, Cole Beauchamp 8, Konrad Klein 7, Trevor Ongie 5, Alex Knight 4, Konrad Klein 4, Eric Seppala 2, Ryan Knoll 2, Travis Ambuehl 2; FT: 10-13; Fouls: 13; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Roose 2, Kumpula 1, Ongie 1, Poissant 1, Beauchamp 2.
Chassell - Evan Huhta 18, Carson Ryynanen 11, Josh Pietila 9, Jake Tuomi 6, Zach Cherubini 3, Jordy LaTendresse 3, Brant Ryynanen 2; FT: 7-9; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Pietila 3, Tuomi 2, C. Ryynanen 1.
"Our stats show we only got five shots. We had to have had 10, 15 turnovers. That was ridiculous. A little bit was positioning, but some of the passes we threw were so far away from their target. I was really stunned by that. It doesn't really happen that often. Their press is good, but it's not that good," Chassell coach Steve Spahn said.
Not helping matters was the disparity in size of the teams' benches. Chassell dressed seven players, LL-H 16.
"Fatigue does cause errors, also," Spahn said.
Once the storm had cleared, the Panthers (8-9, 5-4 CCC) made a much better account of themselves in the second half, essentially playing the game to a draw until the final minutes.
A big reason for this, both physically and metaphorically, was senior Evan Huhta. The burly center displayed a deft touch, knocking down several jumpers from the elbows in the second half on the way to a team-high 18 points on an efficient 9-of-15 from the field. He also added 11 rebounds.
"He likes to face up and he's got a real nice touch ... he was real good at finding the spots and he's real good at halfcourt and in the press break, too," Spahn said.
Chassell made a couple incursions in the third quarter but got no closer than 14. Carson Ryynanen added 11 for the Panthers, who finish up with a make-up game at home Thursday against Dollar Bay.
As for the Lakes' offense, it primarily came from a familiar source: Roose, who scored 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting. After him, there was the usual offense-by-committe: nine apiece from Cody Kumpula and Brett Poissant, eight from Cole Beauchamp and seven from Konrad Klein.
The Lakes finish up their campaign with a home game against Hancock Thursday. They get a bye for the first round of the districts before facing Jeffers or Ontonagon a week from tonight. Chassell also has a first-round bye before hosting the winner of Dollar Bay and Baraga in the other semifinal.
"The district is a different animal and you'll never know how kids react. We want to come out here and play real well," Kumpula said.