LAKE LINDEN - The Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes faced a big challenge in their regular season finale Thursday night against Hancock.
The Blue and Gold had to find a way to contain the Bulldogs' Alex Almquist, just named the WestPAC Player of the Year.
But Hancock found LL-H standout Tyler Roose just as difficult to guard in a 49-42 Lakes victory on Parents Night.
Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Alex Knight drives to the basket as Hancock’s Alex Almquist moves in to defend during Thursday’s game at Lake Linden. (Paul Peterson photo)
Roose totaled 30 points and 11 rebounds, while Almquist recorded a rare triple double with 19 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocked shots.
"You had two very good players going at it tonight," Lakes coach Jack Kumpula noted. "I know we're not going to see a better pivot player down the road than Almquist. But we were able to ride Tyler (Roose) in the second half and he took us home."
Hancock coach Curtis Wittenberg said the game - hotly contested on defense - was a good test for his team.
Hancock 8 12 8 14 - 42
LL-Hubbell 4 14 14 17- 49
Hancock - Shane Raasio 10, Riley Engman 7, Alex Almquist 19, Matt Yao 3, Brian Kass 3. FT: 7-11; Rebounds: 33 (Almquist 17); Fouls: 19; Fouled out: Kass, Raasio; 3-point FG: Yao 1.
LL-Hubbell - Tyler Roose 30, Cole Beauchamp 3, Konrad Klein 2, Alex Knight 3, Trent Ambeuhl 7, Trevor Ongie 3, Brett Poissant 1. FT: 14-23; Rebounds: 31 (Roose 11); Fouls: 13; Fouled out: none; 3-point FG: Roose 2, Beauchamp 1.
"That was the kind of game you're often going to see in the tournaments," Wittenberg said. "There was a great atmosphere here ... I thought both teams played really hard."
The Bulldogs took an 8-4 lead in a defense-minded first quarter before Almquist went down early in the second frame after banging his head on the floor (a quick test confirmed he was OK to return).
A pair of three-point plays by the 6-foot-7 Bulldogs center gave his team a 20-15 margin before Cole Beauchamp fired in a triple at the buzzer for a 20-18 reading at the break.
Roose, who tallied 18 of his total after the intermission, paced a 14-8 third quarter that lifted the hometown team into a 32-28 lead.
Roose's eight straight points gave the Lakes a 42-32 lead midway through the final stanza before the 'Dawgs rallied back.
Two hoops by Riley Engman and a putback by Almquist cut the deficit to 44-40 with 2:54 left before the eventual winners iced the game at the free throw line.
Kumpula, whose team will bring a 15-5 record into the districts, said his team may have overcompensated for Almquist's defensive skills in the opening half.
"I thought we did a better job of swinging the ball around and making Almquist defend the high post. We were able to find Tyler (Roose) for open shots," he said.
Wittenberg felt his 11-9 squad may have gotten tired from facing the constant LL-H pressure.
"We ran our starters most of the night and they were exhausted," the HCHS mentor said. "Obviously, that's something we're going have to work on."
Trent Ambuehl backed up Roose's big game with seven points and seven boards in addition to slowing up Almquist.
Shane Raasio totaled 10 points for the Bulldogs before fouling out.
The Lakes meet the winner of the Jeffers-Ontonagon game next Wednesday in Chassell in its postseason debut.
Hancock will tackle Houghton the same night in L'Anse in its district opener.
The Lakes won the JV game.