Hornets sting Bulldogs

L’ANSE – Michigan Tech basketball signee Alex Almquist glimpsed a nice demonstration Friday night of what his future offense looks like when the ball is zipping around the floor.

Unfortunately for Hancock, it was L’Anse that provided the demonstration.

The Purple Hornets ran through the visiting Bulldogs with tempo and precision, jumping out to a 36-20 halftime lead before cruising to a 58-38 WestPAC win.

L’Anse sank six threes in the first half, utilizing quick ball reversals to pass around the 6-foot-7 Almquist in the middle of Hancock’s 2-3 zone.

“That is probably the best we have moved the ball all year,” L’Anse coach Mike Ostermeyer said. “In the first half our ball movement was very good and we shot the ball very well.”

“It felt like they didn’t miss a shot in the first half,” Hancock coach Curtis Wittenberg added.

L’Anse forced its preferred up-tempo pace on Hancock from the outset, blitzing the Bulldogs with a full-court press for an early lead.

Point guard Ryan LaBerge accounted for eight first quarter points (16 for the game) as he acted the role of floor general superbly.

A senior, LaBerge has innate feel for when and where to push the ball.

“We wanted to run, and I thought LaBerge had a great floor game,” Ostermeyer said. “Our tempo was very good and that starts with Ryan.”

L’Anse stretched its strong first quarter lead with a trio of threes to open the second, as LaBerge and Jacob Ostermeyer, who had two of them, found holes in the Hancock zone.

Jimmy Veker kept the pressure on too with three triples of his own for the game, and five layups off putbacks and dump off passes from LaBerge and Ostermeyer. Veker finished with a game-high 23.

“I think our threes softened up the zone a bit and then we were able to find some space inside,” Ostermeyer said.

Hancock couldn’t keep up with the frantic pace, turning the ball over frequently in the first half.

By the time the Bulldogs solved the press – with Spencer Silvola the benefactor for seven points inside – the lead was too great to overcome.

“I don’t think we were ready to play tonight,” Wittenberg said. “Every man is accountable for that. That starts with me on down.”

Almquist led the Bulldogs with 17 points, though seven of those came in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.

“I thought it started with our defense, our defensive intensity was good all night,” Ostermeyer said.