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L’Anse beats Houghton in Koski’s varsity coaching debut

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette L'Anse's Reese Waara readies to attempt a layup in the third quarter of a game against Houghton at L'Anse Gym Thursday.

L’ANSE Last year was a tough season for the L’Anse Purple Hornets. Even though they earned a trip to the district championship game, the Hornets won just one game all season in the district semi-final.

In Kyle Koski’s debut Thursday night, the bar was set low. After all, the Hornets were playing the Houghton Gremlins. Just hanging with them would have been an accomplishment.

Instead, sophomore Logan Fish put up 14 of his game-high 17 points in the first half to lead the Hornets to a 55-37 West-PAC victory in the L’Anse Gym.

Fish was more happy to have been a part of Koski’s first win than he was of his own success.

“It’s nice,” said Fish. “It’s exciting and it just feels good. Today, we just found a way to win, and we played well.”

Head coach Jared Lawson’s Gremlins struggled to find matchups for Fish all through the first half, and it showed as Fish finished off a double-double with 11 rebounds and even added five assists.

“He doesn’t stop moving his feet,” said Lawson. “When you are a shooter, that makes it very difficult for the defense.”

The Hornets are a young team, often playing three sophomores in Fish, Reese Waara and Louis Bogda, but the trio did little to show their age as Bogda scored 13 points and Waara added six of his own.

Koski could not be happier with the efforts of all three.

“The kids played came out hard tonight,” said Koski. “Louis hit a couple of big shots from the outside. Logan Fish played absolutely great in the first half.”

Despite having issues boxing out defensively, early, the Hornets raced out of the gates on the other end of the floor. Already up 2-0, Fish extended that lead to five when he came up with a defensive rebound, drove the ball down the floor, stopped up and drained a 3-pointer from the right side of the top of the key.

The Gremlins got five points from senior Benjamin Strong, including a 3-pointer just under three minutes into the quarter as they did what they could to stick with the Hornets through the first eight minutes of the contest.

Fish and his teammates started to stretch things out in the second quarter to beat Houghton’s zone, and it worked more often than not. The Hornets picked up 19 points during the quarter, nine of which came from Fish.

He started with a layup after Bogda had stretched the Hornets’ lead to 18-14 with a steal and a short jumper. As Houghton’s shooters missed key shots, Fish took a pass from junior Chase Parker and capped the play with a layup.

After Gremlins’ sophomore George Butvilas drained a 3-pointer, Fish answered with a layup. He added one more while drawing a foul with just 5.2 seconds left in the half. He made the free throw.

“Certainly L’Anse found a rhythm in the second quarter,” said Lawson. “Our defense has a lot to do with that. I think we just lost guys, and we were giving them wide-open shots. You can’t do that at the varsity level.”

The Gremlins drew up and attempted to execute a quick play to open up the third quarter. After the miss, the Hornets drove to the other end of the floor immediately and Fish found Bogda in the left corner for a long jumper to give the Hornets a 32-17 advantage.

Lawson called a timeout to try to settle his troops. The move did not work as planned, however, as Bogda took a pass from senior Dylan Harden and hit a 3-pointer from the left side.

Strong was able to start calming things down for the Gremlins after that, first with a 3-pointer, then a layup two minutes later. He followed that up by hitting three of four consecutive free throws as Houghton closed the gap from 18 to 37-23. Senior Christopher Filpus followed with four points of his own on layups as the Gremlins shaved another point off the Hornets’ lead.

Strong cut the Hornets’ lead down to 11 with a jumper off of a pick-and-roll a minute-and-a-half into the fourth. That was as close as the visitors would get.

Senior Brandt Tembreull closed the game strong for the Hornets, getting seven of his 13 points on the night in the final 5:35 of the contest.

“The sophomores and seniors moved the ball around well in the third and fourth quarters,” said Koski. “They were really patient.”

The Hornets return to the floor Monday when they host Westwood. The Gremlins host Escanaba on Tuesday.

Scoring

Houghton  11  6  12  8 – 37

L’Anse  11  19  12  13 – 55

HHS: Strong 15, Filpus 10, Butvilas 8, Cortright 2, Wilson 2; Fouls: 18; Fouled out: Butvilas; 3-point field goals: Strong 2, Butvilas 2

LHS: Fish 17, Tembreull 13, Bogda 13, Waara 6, Harden 6; Fouls: 17: Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Bogda 3, Fish 1, Tembreull 1, Waara 1

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