E-TC knocks LL-H boys from unbeaten ranks

LAKE LINDEN – And then there were none.

The Lake Linden-Hubbell boys’ basketball team – the last unbeaten prep outfit in the Upper Peninsula this season – fell from those exalted ranks after suffering a 77-65 defeat to Ewen-Trout Creek Saturday night.

Playing before a jam-packed crowd at the LL-H gymnasium, the two U.P. powers played a physical, fast-paced game.

“It was a hard-fought battle between two very even basketball teams,” Panthers skipper Brad Besonen said afterward. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see either one, or both of us, in the regionals.”

LL-H coach Jack Kumpula said the game was the kind his team will need if it is to make a serious move in the second portion of the season.

“We need to be in games like that,” Kumpula commented. “There was was a great atmosphere here tonight … and that’s good for us.

“They (Panthers) turned up the defensive pressure and we hadn’t seen that kind of pressure. It was hard for us to handle in the second half.”

The two teams traded the lead like a hot potato in the opening period, LL-H holding a slender 19-17 margin at quarter’s end.

And things looked good for the hometown team midway through the second frame when they stepped out to a 32-22 advantage behind the play of sophomore ace Tyler Roose.

That was when E-TC made its move.

Sharpshooting senior Dillon Gordon quickly nailed a pair of treys to go along with a conventional three-point play by Keith Kauss to knot it at 33-33.

The Lakes took a narrow 34-33 lead into the locker room on a free throw by Luke Monette, but the tone had been set.

“That surge late in the first half was a key to the game,” Besonen said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games this season and that’s a plus in games like this one.”

Gordon, held to a season-low 10 points the night before by L’Anse, heated up in the second half.

He nailed three more triples and scored 10 points as the Black and Gold took a 57-48 lead by the end of the third quarter.

The Lakes battled back into the game behind Roose’s seven points and a big triple from Cole Beauchamp.

But E-TC’s Lane Brown notched seven of his 13 points in the final period to help keep his team ahead. And when Mike Borseth hit a triple from the deep corner to make it 71-61 with 1:15 to go, the issue was pretty much settled.

“The play of our big people (Kauss and Brown) has really been encouraging of late,” Besonen said. “We’re going to need that as we go on this season.”

Kumpula pointed out that his relatively young team still has a lot hurdles to get over this campaign.

“We play Ewen again, Houghton twice and L’Anse, Hancock and Calumet once each,” he said. “There’s a lot to be accomplished … and we have to continue to get better.”

Now 9-2 on the year, the Panthers were paced by Gordon’s 31 points and five assists. Borseth tossed in 16 more – 13 in the second half – while Brown had 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Kauss was good for nine points and seven boards.

The 10-1 Lakes were led by Roose with 24 points and eight rebounds. Trent Ambuehl had a solid game with 11 points and four steals and Monette contributed eight points and a good floor game.

E-TC hosts Ontonagon Tuesday night. LL-H is idle until a Thursday tilt at home versus Ontonagon.

In a battle of unbeaten JV teams, the Lakes came up with a 67-56 win.