Panthers complete comeback late, break away in OT for 86-76 win
CHASSELL — The Chassell Panthers boys basketball team came out of the locker room at halftime down 15 points and outsized by the visiting Wakefield-Marenisco Cardinals, who brought a clean three-point shot and aggressive offensive pressure throughout the night.
Despite the disadvantages facing the Panthers, they managed to not only comeback and force overtime, but they also found a way to win the game in the extra session, 86-76, at the Ed Helakoski Gym in Chassell.
“This is a big win,” said Panthers coach Raphael Soumis. “Wakefield-(Marenisco) is a good team. This is a big win for us. Everybody played well. It was a team effort and they all hustled. Everybody made big baskets (and) free throws so it was a good win.”
The Panthers shaved that sizable Cardinals’ lead down to 10 points for much of the second half until senior Abe Gockenbach, who lead the team with 24 points, ran up the floor for a quick layup.
Chassell’s Elijah Soumis then pulled the Panthers within three and, not long after, pushed them ahead, 67-66, with 3:36 remaining in regulation.
Wakefield-Marenisco junior Logan Hamel worked inside for a 74-72 lead, but Panthers junior Bill Rautiola locked in a bucket to even the score at 74-74, sending the game into overtime.
Chassell surged ahead early in overtime with senior Kurtis Kytta and Gockenbach holding off the Cardinals and working into the basket to get the points necessary to come away with the win.
Solid ball control and shot accuracy during the later half of the game is what helped push the Panthers ahead.
“We were down 15 at the half, and the kids hustled really well in the second half,” said Soumis, “that was the big difference. We just controlled the ball. They made good decisions (and) put the ball in the basket. We made our free throws, which made a big difference.”
Cardinals coach Terry Fetters, whose team racked up 12 threes on the night, wants to see his team improve under pressure before hosting the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes on Tuesday.
Senior Brent Heil led Wakefield-Marenisco with 24 points.
“The first half we shot really well,” said Fetters. “They came out in the second half and put a lot of pressure on us. We lost our composure, we just could not handle their full court man-to-man. We’ve been struggling with that all season.
“(I) have to give Chassell credit. They were down 15 at halftime and beat us by 10 in overtime. They didn’t quit. They were relentless. They deserved to win the game.”
Fetters felt that his team gave as much as they could during regulation, which left nothing available to to them in overtime, where they scored just two points.
“We were pretty much out of gas in overtime,” said Fetters. “We just couldn’t get anything going offensively in overtime. We have Lake Linden at home tomorrow night, so we make the trip back to Wakefield and get ready for tomorrow night.”
Chassell will play Ontonagon Tuesday.
“We don’t have much time because it’s tomorrow,” said Soumis. “Hopefully the momentum will carry over.”
Wakefield 19 25 18 11 2 – 76
Chassell 16 13 24 21 12 – 86
WAK: Saubert 23, Miskovich 6, Libertoski 8, Heil 24, Hamel 13, Merconti 2; Fouls: 18; Fouled out: Miskovich, Hamel; 3-point field goals: Saubert 6, Heil 3, Libertoski 2, Hamel 1
CTS: Soumis 22, B. Rautiola 14, Gockenbach 24; K. Rautiola 15, Kytta 11; Fouls: 13; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: B. Rautiola 1