LL-H wins big over Baraga to start season

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette Lake Linden-Hubbell's Peter Heikkinen drives the ball down the floor in the first quarter of a game against Baraga in Lake Linden-Hubbell Gym Monday.

LAKE LINDEN While the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes boys basketball may not have the likes of Arthur Lyons, Tyler Roose or Brett Poissant on the floor this season, the Lakes dominated with a new core of players as Poissant made his debut as an assistant coach.

The Lakes pressured the visiting Baraga Vikings from the opening tip, and took advantage of a large number of Vikings’ turnovers en route to a 73-34 win.

Lakes coach Jack Kumpula was pleased with the effort his boys showed, especially when it came to their full-court press.

“We get more possessions,” said Kumpula. “For us, more is good. I thought our kids did really well. I thought we adjusted in the second half with a little more pressure and did a really nice job.”

It also helped the Lakes that despite missing some shots early, junior Peter Heikkinen used a strong first and fourth quarter to put up a game-high 22 points.

“He’ll get better as the season goes on,” said Kumpula. “That’s just where we are. We are learning a lot; we’ve got a lot to clean up in our game.”

For the Vikings, while they opened the game with a 3-pointer from guard Nick Denomie, they were unable to add any more field goals in the first quarter. Similarly, in the fourth quarter, the Vikings went the game’s final 5 minutes, 7 seconds without scoring a point.

While the constant turnovers proved costly, Vikings coach Daryl Putala felt they are a solvable problem, especially since this was the first game of the season.

“Way too many turnovers for varsity basketball players,” said Putala. “A lot of them were unforced turnovers, dribbling through two guys. The good side of that: we can clean that up.”

The Lakes were not without mistakes of their own. They missed several shots, especially early on, and struggled in the first half with senior Lincoln Klein off the floor for all but 18 seconds of the second quarter due to foul trouble.

Klein had just two points in the first quarter, but once he got back on the floor in the third, he exploded for 10 of his 14 points. He scored in a variety of ways in the third quarter: off of steals, off of rebounds and short jumpers.

Kumpula could see the confidence his team played with when Klein was on the court.

“We are a much better team when he is on the floor,” said Kumpula. “We have more options, and we are a little more patient with the ball.”

After Denomie’s 3-pointer to break the ice in the game, Heikkinen scored 10 of the Lakes’ 15 points in the opening quarter. He started with a drive to the basket for a layup and later hit a jumper from the free throw line with 3:15 left in the quarter. A minute later, he came up with a steal at midcourt and ran it in for a layup to put the Lakes up 13-3.

In the second quarter, after the Lakes lost Klein, they turned to senior Bradley Moilanen, who came up with a ball near midcourt when a Vikings’ player lost control of the ball. Moilanen ran it in for a layup. Three minutes later, he hit a long jumper from the right side near the 3-point line to put the Lakes up 27-16. At the buzzer, he drew a foul and made one of the two free throws to put the Lakes up 11 at the half, 30-19.

Putala felt his team was still in the contest at the half.

“We had a lot of good looks,” said Putala. “We played good defense… I thought we should have hung with that team right there. Two shots, I told these kids, and we are right in this game.”

Klein was effective for the Lakes in the third quarter, scoring half of Lake Linden’s points in the quarter.

In the final quarter, the Vikings’ Denomie hit a 3-pointer to answer a layup by Heikkinen. That was the last basket they would make.

Lakes freshman Carter Crouch hit a 3-pointer of his own nearly two minutes before Denomie’s. He added a basket after a steal with 1:36 left in the game to put the Lakes up 67-34.

The Lakes return to action Thursday when they play host to Watersmeet. The Vikings travel to Chassell on Thursday.

Baraga  7  12  12  3 – 34

Lake Linden  15  15  20  23 – 73

BAR: Denomie 15, Francois 9, Putala 6, G. Lindemann 4; FT: 5/12; Fouls: 12; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Denomie 4, Francois 1

LLH: Heikkinen 22, Klein 14, Baccus 11, Moilanen 9, Sutherland 8, Crouch 5, Muljo 2, Wagner 2; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Crouch 1, Baccus 1