Gremlins get to Hornets early

L’ANSE – The Houghton boys’ basketball team jumped out to a double-digit lead on L’Anse just five minutes into Monday night’s game, and the hosts could never trim the deficit to less than eight in a physical battle that deteriorated into a free-throw fest late.

Houghton led 19-10 after the first quarter, 35-19 at the half, 51-34 after three and sealed a 66-50 win, similar to the 71-50 Gremlins’ win in the team’s first WestPAC meeting. Altogether the game featured 70 free-throw attempts – only 36 of which were made – 45 fouls, nine players with at least four fouls at game’s end and three foul-outs.

Jacob Ostermeyer, who had a team-high 16 points for the Purple Hornets, opened the scoring with a three 30 seconds in, but Cody Goodreau and Trent Keteri answered with threes of their own in the next 30 seconds to launch a 13-0 Gremlin run that proved insurmountable the rest of the way.

“We came out flat. We didn’t have any intensity on the defensive end, and Houghton jumped on us,” L’Anse coach Mike Ostermeyer said. “We were playing from behind all night after that.”

L’Anse committed 27 fouls in trying to claw back into it, and even though Houghton only made 23 of 41 free throws – all 15 of its fourth-quarter points came from the charity stripe – the Gremlins only turned the ball over 13 times (against 18 assists) in the face of the Purple Hornet pressure.

“After a three-week layoff, I’m very satisfied with the way the guys played throughout the whole game, especially at the end when it mattered, taking care of the basketball and playing good defense,” Houghton coach Jared Lawson said.

L’Anse, which was without leading scorer Jimmy Veker due to a high ankle sprain, trimmed Houghton’s lead to eight points three separate times in the first quarter, but every time the Gremlins answered.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump, and when we had a chance to cut it under seven, couldn’t make that one more shot to get us to where we can make them nervous,” coach Ostermeyer said.

The Black and Orange lead ballooned to 20 points after starting the second quarter on a 14-2 run, and even though L’Anse chipped away little by little in the third quarter, Houghton always came through with a timely shot.

Jacob Ostermeyer made it 44-32 late in the third with a midrange jumper, but Ryan LaBerge answered with two of his game-high 24. Again Ostermeyer made it a 12-point difference with a pair of free throws, but this time Goodreau nailed a triple as part of his 13-point performance.