Purple Hornets put away Bulldogs

HANCOCK – Taking care of business was the central theme for the L’Anse High boys basketball team Tuesday night.

A win over the Hancock Bulldogs would assure the Purple Hornets of a tie for the WestPAC title. And LHS did that with a businesslike 64-29 victory over a Hancock team playing without ace center Alex Almquist.

“Sure, we knew that Alex (Almquist) wouldn’t play,” Hornets’ coach Mike Ostermeyer said. “But we told the kids to go out there and play hard. And they did that, they accomplished one of the major goals we set as a team at the beginning of the season. I’m proud of the effort they put out.”

Bulldogs’ coach Curtis Wittenberg was well aware his team faced a huge chore last night.

“Playing without Alex takes a lot out of our entire game plan … we knew that,” he said. “And they (Hornets) came out with all guns blazing. They’re a very explosive team.”

L’Anse held a 21-7 lead after one quarter and quickly expanded that to 35-9 late in the second frame before settling for a 43-12 bulge at the intermission.

Jimmy Veker and Keith Denomie, who paced the winners with 16 points each, combined to score 23 points in the opening two quarters.

Ostermeyer was able to empty his bench for most of the second half.

L’Anse moved to 15-4 overall and 7-1 in the league, while Hancock dropped to 12-6 on the season and 2-5 in the conference.

Besides his 16 points, Veker led the Purple Gang with 10 rebounds. Ryan LaBerge notched seven points, five steals and four assists in limited time.

Chad Raasio led HCHS with nine points, while Matt Yao managed eight points. Reserve Spencer Silvola had six points and seven rebounds.

The Hornets will host Westwood Thursday in their season finale before meeting Ironwood in an opening round district tourney game next week in Calumet.

“We know that Ironwood has a nice team,” Ostermeyer noted. “But our seniors have prepared for this moment and I think we’ll be ready to play.”

Hancock, which meets Calumet in the districts, hosts Lake Linden-Hubbell on Thursday.