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Blue Bolts boys open districts with win over Vikings

Dollar Bay-Tamarack City’s Liam Tourtillot lines up a free throw during a Division 4 District 98 quarterfinal game Monday against Baraga at the Baraga Gym. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

BARAGA — “March Madness” for Michigan boys basketball kicked off Monday across the state. Locally, in Division 4 District 98 action, the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Blue Bolts faced off against the Baraga Vikings. Despite a valiant effort and comeback by the Vikings, the Blue Bolts held out for a 48-46 win.

It was a game in which the Blue Bolts led by as many as 12 points at halftime, only to have the Vikings tie it at 45, and then take a brief lead with less than a minute to go in the game.

“We knew that this one wasn’t going to be a walk in the park,” said Blue Bolts coach Jesse Kentala. “Hats off to Baraga. They played a heck of a game.”

While he only scored 12 points-all 3-pointer, Jesse Kentala gave the game ball to point guard and son, Caleb Kentala.

“He handled the pressure and ran our offense really well,” he said. “In particular, he fed the ball to Liam (Tourtillott), and Liam was able to hit his shots.”

Dollar Bay-Tamarack City coach Jesse Kentala goes over a play with his team on Monday during a Division 4 District 98 quarterfinal game Monday against Baraga at the Baraga Gym. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

Tourtillott led the scoring for the Blue Bolts with 20.

The two teams traded hoops and shot out to a 5-5 tie to open the first. The Blue Bolts then took a 19-14 lead after one. That morphed into a 32-20 lead at half.

However, the Vikings were not going down easily. They won the third 11-8 to put the score at 40-31 Blue Bolts. Then the Vikings sailed in to trim the score to 42-38, and eventually to 45-45, with around two minutes to play.

“I loved how the kids kept clawing and fighting their way back,” said Vikings coach Jon Boever. “It could have been really easy for them to pack it in, but they knew that it was districts, and it was do or die. They left it all out on the floor, and they gave it their all.”

He added that cooler heads prevailed in the end for the Blue Bolts, and Jesse Kentala, not to get rattled and throw this one away, instead posting a two-point win.

“I like how we adjusted and keep our calm at the end as Baraga kept throwing different looks at us throughout the game,” said Jesse.

While the Blue Bolts will play at least one more game, the Vikings season came to a close but with a lot of success and growth seen throughout the season, according to their leader.

“We finished 10-12, and 10 wins is the most wins we have had as a program since 2010-11,” Boever noted. “As well, we have a good core coming back, and they are hungry especially after playing a game like last night.”

UP NEXT

The Blue Bolts will welcome the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes to Dollar Bay Wednesday at 6 p.m. for semifinal play.

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