Bulldog boys on the board

CHASSELL – Hancock junior center Alex Almquist had his imprint all over Thursday night’s 54-48 win over Chassell in boys’ basketball play at Ed Helakoski Memorial Gym.

After all, the 6-foot-7 Almquist tallied game-high totals of 32 points and 14 rebounds in the Crimson and Gold’s first win this season.

But unsung Adrian Saterstad may have made the biggest play of the night with 1:48 left when he banked in a 5-footer, was fouled and made the free throw for a 50-48 lead the winners would not relinquish.

“That play (by Saterstad) was huge,” HCHS coach Curtis Wittenberg said afterward. “He’s been down on himself a little bit but we told him to keep plugging away and he made an important play.”

Chassell’s Brant Ryynanen had just given the Panthers a 48-47 margin with his second triple of the quarter.

CHS coach Steve Spahn said his team played hard.

“I thought we did some good things and played pretty solid defense on Almquist,” Spahn noted. “But he’s such a complete player … it’s hard to keep him from scoring. He can hurt you from inside, of course, but he can also step out and hit the outside shot.

“It’s a real challenge to guard him because of that.”

The smaller Panthers made 1-5 Hancock earn the elusive first win – a fact not lost on Wittenberg.

“Nothing has come easy for us this season,” the Hancock mentor said. “We didn’t have one of our starters (Riley Engman) tonight, and Shane Raasio got into foul trouble right away. But we hung in there.”

Hancock built a slim lead of 24-21 after two quarters behind 18 points by Almquist.

But the Blue and Gold stayed close behind the outside shooting of Josh Pietila and actually led a portion of the third quarter.

Evan Huhta – Chassell’s 6-5 senior center – nailed a rebound shot to cut the deficit to 35-34 by the end of the third quarter.

The two teams traded the lead in the final period as Brant Ryynanen provided the firepower for CHS with eight points. But Almquist hooped 11 in the stanza and his four free throws down the stretch put the cap on the win.

“He (Almquist) did what he had to do,” Wittenberg said. “Every night everyone is focused on him, we know that. But it’s a case of getting him the ball in the clutch.”

Raasio managed nine points to back Almquist, who also blocked five shots. Matt Yao put in six points and made four steals.

Pietila led the 3-2 Panthers with 14 markers, while Brant Ryynanen put in 11 more. Jake Tuomi netted nine points, Huhta managed six points and a team-best 10 boards, and Carson Ryyyanen pitched in six points and seven rebounds.

“We were zero for 7 on free throws and that hurt,” Spahn said. “But I was not disappointed with our overall play tonight. We’ll keep working.”