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Jets boys basketball survives late push to beat Gremlins, 57-47

Jeffers forward Matthew Schutz attempts to create separation between himself and Houghton’s Luke Hill (3) and Lane Laux (23) during a game Monday at the Houghton Gym. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — While it might seem strange to say that the Jeffers Jets boys basketball team escaped from the Houghton Gym Monday night with a win over the Houghton Gremlins in a game they won by 10 points, 57-47, but that is exactly what happened.

For the first half, the Jets were on cruise control, pressing the Gremlins into the floor, grabbing steals on what felt like every possession, and they held a 38-24 advantage at the break.

“That was our plan,” said Jets coach John Schutz. “If we can just speed them up a little bit, make them make some quick decisions, and hopefully we can capitalize from it. We did in the first half.”

Gremlins coach Jared Lawson admitted that, despite working on the press in practice, there was no real way to replicate what Houghton saw in that first half until they saw it.

“We spent two practices over an hour in that press, but here’s the thing, you can’t replicate what they’re going to do in a game,” he said. “So, we came in, we knew what they were going to do based off last year, and it was almost like running into a truck. We’re throwing it over, throwing it cross court, trying to get the home run pass.

“We just told them, ‘you have to settle down, guys. If anything, don’t give them a pick six, which would be an easy layup. Settle in, let your defense do the job, instead of just hold the ball.'”

Then came the second half. Houghton forced the Jets into mistakes on their way up the floor, and took advantage of missed shots, and they were able to claw their way back to within five, 50-45, after a pair of Lane Laux free throws, with just 5:30 left in the contest.

Fortunately, from there, the Gremlins missed key looks, and the Jets were able to add a few more points to seal the win.

“Second half, they adjusted,” John said. “They came out well. Their coach is good. They know what they’re doing. We struggled in the second half, but were able to hold on to that lead, and we ended up getting it.”

The Jets got 18 points from senior Levi Frahm and 21 from senior Matthew Schutz, but only one other player, sophomore Landon Larson, got to double figures with 11.

John liked what he saw out of his two leaders in Frahm and Matthew, but feels that he needs more from other sources if his team is going to be successful this season.

“Those guys I knew what they’re going to give us,” said John. “They’re the stars of our team. It’s the other guys that we really need to step up. I need Lincoln (Just) to step up. Chase (Kinnunen), Landon, Damien (Heikkinen). When we can get everybody clicking, that’s the key to our team. We know what those two guys will do. It’s everybody else we need to step up.”

On the other end of the floor, Jared’s group struggled to work their zone defense in the first half, and the Jets exploited their mistakes early and often.

“We have a new defense we’re putting in, and they really attacked us at the short corner in the first half,” he said. “It was something we talked about in timeouts. Then, at halftime, (we were) able to come in and really show the guys this is what’s happening.

“They come out right away and they get two buckets off the short corner. We took those guys out, they settled in, and then were able to get some turnovers off it.”

In the third quarter, junior Luke Hill led the way defensively, creating turnovers as the Jets’ offense started to sputter, and suddenly all five guys on the floor had points for Houghton by the time junior Tim Brown drained a lengthy three at the end of the quarter to pull the Gremlins within nine at 48-39.

In the fourth quarter, before and after the Gremlins pulled within five, junior Isaiah Lawson had chances to pull his team even closer. He missed two threes in the first 35 seconds, missed another three and a layup shortly after midway through, and then missed another three at the final buzzer. His missed shots weren’t the only ones missed by the Gremlins, however, by any means.

“I told the guys, between Tim, Luke, Isaiah, and Lane, I’m like, ‘There is not going to be very many nights where you end up shooting like you guys did combined tonight,'” said Jared. “It’s just not going to happen. So, you take with everything else that happened, and the great thing is you just see all this room for improvement.”

Even with the win, John felt that his Jets gained some valuable insight from their first win of the year.

“I always say I’d rather lose a game to a good team,” he said. “It teaches us something, and I think we learned again tonight here what big, strong teams can do to us if we’re not boxing out. I think we got killed on offensive boards by quite a bit tonight, and that was our concern. It definitely showed tonight.”

UP NEXT

Houghton is back in action Wednesday night as they host the Ewen-Trout Creek Panthers at 7:15 p.m. at the Houghton Gym.

Jeffers is off until Thursday, when they host the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Blue Bolts at 7:15 p.m.

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