W-M tops Lakes 71-46

Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Cole Gregoire challenges Wakefield-Marenisco’s Mason Saubert Tuesday in Lake Linden. (Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette)

LAKE LINDEN — Terry Fetters knew this wasn’t the top-tier conference team he was accustomed to seeing. No, instead of the Wakefield-Marenisco squad that won 11 of 14 games, it was replaced with a group that appeared lethargic and out of rhythm due to the 108-mile bus ride to Lake Linden-Hubbell.

“That first half wasn’t pretty,” Fetters said. “We were kind of lazy on defense.”

So Fetters installed a 2-2-1 full-court press that settled back into a 2-3 zone. Suddenly, the favored Cardinals came alive and that was that for LL-H’s upset bid as W-M turned a seven-point halftime lead into a 71-46 Copper Mountain Conference win on Tuesday.

Senior Bailey Ribich led the Cardinals with 24 points while senior Jacob Suzik had 22 points and 14 rebounds.

“LL-H was getting to the rim, so I just figured we’d put some pressure on them and sit back in the zone,” Fetters said.

The Lakes committed nine of their 18 turnovers in the third quarter while the Cardinals turned a 31-27 lead into a 51-31 advantage following a layup from junior Mason Saubert to cap a 20-4 run.

On three straight possessions midway through the third, LL-H failed to get the ball past halfcourt.

“We just stood around and didn’t run our regular press break,” LL-H coach Jack Kumpula said. “We got the deer-in-the-headlights look.”

The increased defensive intensity increased W-M’s rhythm on offense. After W-M (12-3, 7-3) shot just 3 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half as a team, Ribich made 4 of his 8 attempts from 3 in the second half against LL-H’s box-and-1 on Saubert.

Saubert finished with 16 points.

“Once we got some turnovers and some points off those turnovers, we just got in a better rhythm,” Fetters said. “It was nice to see Bailey and some other guys hit some 3s to spread out their defense a little bit.”

Even with its offensive struggles from the perimeter at the start, W-M had the luxury of feeding Suzik in the post. LL-H had no answer for the physical forward, and Suzik made 6 of 8 shots to give the Cardinals a 29-22 halftime lead.

“I like how he played tonight,” Fetters said. “Our gameplan was to get him the ball. We’ve been seeing a lot of box-and-1s on Saubert … Jake is just a big threat inside.”

Despite being an overwhelming underdog, LL-H showed no fear in the early goings. The Lakes (4-12, 4-9) attacked the basket from the perimeter, scoring 10 of their first 14 points from the paint to take a 14-11 lead after a basket by sophomore Carter Crouch.

“We really had a good (first) half there,” Kumpula said. “We’ve been really working on getting to the rim. I thought (Cole and Caleb) Gregoire and Carter did a nice job of attacking. When we had the openings, we took them.

“We’re getting better. Our confidence and the way they take it to the rim now, that would have never happened at the beginning of the year. I like our team now. I like where we are and where we’re going.”

Crouch led LL-H with 12 points. As a team, the Lakes made 20 of 55 shots (36 percent).

W-M finished the game 25 of 63 from the field (40 percent) and had a 41-30 advantage on the boards.

Next, LL-H hosts Jeffers on Friday.

– – –

W-M 11 18 23 19 — 71

LL-H 14 8 11 13 — 46

W-M — Saubert 16, Ribich 24, Suzik 22, Vizina 3, Merconti 2, Hakamaki 2, Whitburn 2. F: 7; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 12-17; 3-point field goals: Ribich 6, Saubert 2, Vizina.

LL-H — Crouch 12, Hainault 1, Caleb Gregoire 9, Cole Gregoire 8, Hill 2, Simpson 5, Wilson 9. F: 12; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 2-6; 3-point field goals: Caleb Gregoire, Cole Grego