LAKE LINDEN - When it comes to the winter of 2013-14, the Lake Linden-Hubbell boys are the last team standing -and the Lakes want to keep standing through tonight's Class D regional semifinal.
Their opponent in tonight's first (6 p.m.) semifinal at Escanaba High School is Forest Park, and though the teams are annual (sometimes more than annual) foes on the football field, they don't see each other on the basketball court often.
The Lakes are hoping they can keep up the pressure they established in sweeping through three district tournament games.
Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Trevor Ongie drives to the basket in Friday’s Class D?district final at Painesdale. The Lakes face Forest Park in a regional semifinal tonight in Escanaba. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"I think that might be to our advantage in the short turnaround," LL-H coach Jack Kumpula said.
Though the Lakes have emphasized their speed in the regular season, it's likely that any meeting with the Trojans will also require a lot of brawn, too. LL-H's Brett Poissant provided that throughout the regular season and districts, posting double-doubles in all three games the Lakes played.
"He's not that big, but he plays bigger than he is. He has a great sense of the ball and where he's going to be," Kumpula said.
Though Poissant's work inside and Tyler Roose's outside shooting, which included eight threes in Friday's district final, made the biggest headlines, the Lakes got good support from up and down the lineup. Kumpula noted senior guard Trevor Ongie's work.
"I thought Trevor Ongie came into his own a little bit. He's always had the potential, and I think he had a really good week," he said.
The Lakes held their opponents to 37.7 points per game in the districts, marking an improvement over the 41.8 allowed in the regular season.
"Our defense has gotten better through that week than it did. I really had some concerns going through February with our defense," Kumpula said.
The Trojans will be tough to handle. FP comes into the regionals after dumping Wakefield-Marenisco 65-50 at Ewen Friday night.
"We're going to have to really keep them away from the rim. They're so strong, they drive well and we've got to be able to keep them off the glass and keep them away from the rim. If we do that, we'll have a good night (tonight)."
Lee Graff (12.6 ppg) is Forest Park's leading scorer, freshman Daniel Nocerini averages 10.6 points and 8.3 boards, and 6-foot-7 Austin Carlson patrols the paint.
"It's some of the same names we see in football," Kumpula said.
FP, like LL-H, a 19-3 team, shared second place in the Skyline Conference. Like the Lakes, The Trojans' only losses came in the second half of the season to Carney-Nadeau and North Central (twice), both teams ranked in ahead of the No. 5 Trojans in the final U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association poll of the 2013-14 season.
"If we can play fast, work the ball around and get some good shots, we'll be alright," Kumpula said.
The winner of tonight's semifinal will play either Munising or unbeaten North Central in Wednesday's regional final.
In Class C at Marquette Senior High School, Ironwood (19-3) takes on a Norway squad that won its district with a losing record (7-12) for the second year in a row. The Red Devils are favored to run into U.P. No. 1 Negaunee, which must first get past 14-7 St. Ignace in the late semi.
The only U.P. team left above Class C is Escanaba, which plays Cadillac in a Class B regional semi tonight in Petoskey.
The girls' basketball tournament continues with state quarterfinals Tuesday. Michigan Associated Press No. 1 Forest Park (24-0) plays No. 2 Posen (25-0) in a Class D quarter at Sault Ste. Marie that night, while the only other remaining U.P. team is St. Ignace, which faces McBain Tuesday in Gaylord.