Barnes almost gets triple-double in Chassell’s 78-39 win over LL-H

Chassell’s Abe Gockenbach shoots a layup as Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Cole Gregiore looks on Monday in Chassell. (Eden Laase/Daily Mining Gazette)

CHASSELL — Like in any blowout, Chassell coach Bill Sleeman has emptied his bench and pulled his starting lineup off the court. But across the way, the bleachers are full of fans calling out the name “Aaron Barnes.” Even Sleeman’s stat keeper wants Barnes back in the game.

Sleeman knew his senior captain played well, but as Chassell coasted to a 78-39 victory over Lake Linden-Hubbell, Monday in Chassell he wondered why anyone would want Barnes back on the court late in the fourth quarter.

Then he saw the stat sheet.

Barnes had 17 points, 11 assists and nine steals — one takeaway shy of a triple-double. He also tacked on six rebounds for good measure.

“Seeing that, now I almost feel a little bit bad that I didn’t get him back in. But if he says something I’ll just tell him that he should have worked a little bit harder when he was out there,” Sleeman joked after the game.

He’s laughing now because the coach knows there is essentially no way Barnes could have worked any harder. The senior was the driving force behind everything Chassell did in the Copper Mountain conference matchup.

“He is one of the ones that there is no end to his motor,” Sleeman said. “He can go at that pace for 32 minutes and beyond. Between him and Grant Hokenson, our other senior, their energy that they bring and the intensity and heart they bring is contagious.”

The Panthers had no shortage of energy in the game, and it started with their defensive pressure. Chassell ran a 2-3 zone for most of the contest that extended to half court and occasionally beyond. The scheme is something new for the Panthers, but it’s working.

“We have been more man-to-man for the last few years, but we are starting to mix it up a little bit just to throw people off, and that zone seems to be working better for us than our man, so we may play more of that in the future,” Sleeman said. “The guys seem to buy into that a little bit more than the man right now, so I think it is more of a personal preference for them. They seem to give a little bit more energy in the zone with that type of pressure.”

Early in the contest, LL-H didn’t have much trouble breaking the press, but once in the half court setting, the Lakes struggled and started to turn the ball over. As Chassell trapped and gave open driving lanes, LL-H couldn’t figure out how to attack.

“I don’t know if it is just fear, or not seeing the openings, or whatever,” coach Jack Kumpula said. “We did a really nice job handling the press, we just have to continue attacking all the way to the rim. If we get blocked or something happens we can live with that, but turning the ball over isn’t good.”

Down 13-2, Kumpula called two timeouts in the first six minutes of play in an attempt to calm the Lakes. But Chassell’s pressure only got stronger. The Panthers sped up LL-H and began to create more steals in the open court. Their entire offense was based on running the floor and converting layups — 72 of their 78 points came on 2-point shots.

“We have guys who can shoot, but I will never trade a 5-foot shot, or a 3-foot shot for an 18-foot shot, so if we can continually get the close shots that is what we are looking for every time down the floor,” Sleeman said.

Running and getting to the rim is always the game plan for a Chassell team that boasts incredible speed. In practice, Sleeman says the Panthers devote 25 percent of their time to fast-break drills, plus a little bit — well maybe a lot — of conditioning.

“They don’t always like the conditioning drills, but it works for us, and the longer we get into it the more they start to buy into it,” Sleeman said. “They realize that the way we play tires a lot of players out and it is a benefit for them to do that conditioning.”

Chassell also benefited from a balanced offense. In addition to Barnes’s 17 points, Elijah Soumis had 15, Blade Warren added 13 and Abe Gockenbach chipped in with 10. Soumis also grabbed 16 rebounds for a double-double.

LL-H was led by Carter Crouch with 21 points.

Next up Chassell (6-1, 5-0) hosts L’Anse on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. LL-H (2-5, 2-3) heads to Jeffers at 7:20 on the same day.

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LL-H    5       6       13      15    —  39

Chassell        23      21      16      18    —  78

LL-H — Crouch 21, Caleb Gregoire 7, Cole Gregoire 5, Wilson 6. F: 13. Fouled out: Cole Gregoire. Free throws: 4-7. 3-point field goals: Crouch 2, Caleb Gregoire, Wilson 2.

Chassell — Warren 13, Hokenson 6, Gockenbach 10, Barnes 17, Soumis 15, Kytta 9, Kinnunen 8. F: 14. Fouled out: None. Free throws: 6-11. 3-point field goals: Barnes, Kytta.

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