LAKE LINDEN - The unbeaten Lake Linden-Hubbell boys' basketball team had been waiting for a challenge all season.
On Friday night, they received one from the L'Anse Purple Hornets.
L'Anse handed the Lakes a 76-62 defeat before a jampacked Homecoming crowd, using a sizzling first half to accomplish the trick.
Jimmy Veker of L'Anse maneuvers for inside offensive position as Luke Monette of Lake Linden-Hubbell defends Friday night. The Hornets scored a 76-62 victory. (Paul Peterson photo)
Sinking six of their first eight tries from beyond the arc, the Purple Gang stormed out of the gate.
"They shot the lights out," Lakes coach Jack Kumpula said of L'Anse. "To come into our gym and play like that was very impressive. But it's a good game for us because that's the kind of team we're going to see down the road."
Seniors Ryan LaBerge and Jimmy Veker dealt the Lakes the most damage, combining for 50 points on the night.
L'Anse 30 21 17 8 - 76
LL-Hubbell 13 18 15 16 - 62
L'Anse - Ryan LaBerge 26, Cody Clement 2, Daniel Perrow 8, Keith Denomie 6, Jimmy Veker 24, Jacob Ostermeyer 6, Jonny Magaraggia 2, FT: 9-11; Rebounds: 33 (Veker 11); Fouls: 12; Fouled out: None; 3-point FG: LaBerge 3, Perrow 2, Ostermeyer 1, Denomie 1, Veker 1.
Lake Linden-Hubbell - Brett Poissant 14, Trevor Ongie 5, Luke Monette 10, Cody Kunnari 4, Tyler Roose 22, Konrad Klein 2, Trent Ambuehl 2, Lucas Klein 2. FT; 6-12; Rebounds: 29 (Poissant 10); Fouls: 15; Fouled out: None; 3-point FG: Roose 2, Monette 2, Ongie 1.
L'Anse coach Mike Ostermeyer felt his team played as well as it has all season.
"We played exceptional basketball in the first half. We moved the ball really well and got the ball inside to Veker," Ostermeyer commented. "That's the way we need to play if we're going to do something in the (tournaments)."
The first quarter showing by the Purple and White was textbook.
They blitzed the Lakes with a 30-13 advantage in the frame as LaBerge flipped in 10 points and Veker netted eight more.
"LaBerge was all over the place tonight and Veker was tough inside," Kumpula said. "We had no answer for Veker, he did what he wanted to do."
To their credit, the Lakes scrapped back in the second quarter. They were outscored by just a 21-18 margin in the stanza, the final three LHS points coming on a buzzer-beating trey by Jacob Ostermeyer.
Six points apiece from Tyler Roose and Brett Poissant in the quarter gave the LL-H fans some hope, despite the 51-31 deficit at the intermission.
Veker's inside work and eight markers had the winners ahead by a 68-46 count after three periods.
But the hard-working Roose and Poissant kept the Blue and Gold in contention in the final eight minutes, although they could never get any closer than 14 points.
LaBerge led the now-11-4 Hornets with 26 points and a fine floor game. Veker scored 24 points, grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, handed out five assists and blocked four shots in a solid all-around game.
The Lakes, who are now 13-1, received 22 points from Roose. Poissant was good for 14 points and a team-leading 10 boards. Luke Monette added 10 more points.
"They (Lakes) have got a good team," Ostermeyer noted. "This is a good win for us."
Kumpula said the goals for his team remain the same.
"First of all, we want to win the conference," he said. "Secondly, we want the district title. We'll worry about anything else after that."
L'Anse will meet Calumet at home next Tuesday. LL-H goes to Houghton the same evening.