Lakes blaze to district title

PAINESDALE – Lake Linden-Hubbell burned away its bad memories of a district championship game lost in 2013, earning a spot in the Class D regionals for the first time since 2010 by defeating Jeffers 57-40 in the district final Friday.

Stoking the Lakes’ fire was junior Tyler Roose, who blazed to a career-high 34 points and eight three-pointers.

After a 10-0 run through the Copper Country Conference in 2012-13, the Lakes lost the district final to a Chassell team playing on its home floor. Facing the same scenario at Jeffers, Roose, whose LL-H classmates reminded him of his Copper Country Conference MVP status with every made basket, ensured that scenario would not be repeated.

“Over this week, I didn’t think about it much, but in the offseason, I thought about it every day. We were in the gym after that game, working hard to get ready for this year,” Roose said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given his title game performance, Roose was named tournament MVP.

“Wow. Wow. I’m so happy for him,” LL-H coach Jack Kumpula said. “We had a lot of games that weren’t very close and he gave the ball up way too often. You’re not getting any stats, but he’s so unselfish, but in the big games … in the big games and tonight was a big game, boy that kid rose like I’ve never seen anyone.”

The Lakes established their tempo early, using fullcourt pressure to get an over-and-back call and a 10-second backcourt violation on Jeffers’ first two possessions. The other way, Roose made back-to-back threes in the first 2 1/2 minutes and had 11 of his team’s 13 first-quarter points.

“It was good. It gave us the confidence we needed to move on through the whole game and we kept that for the whole game,” Roose said.

“We like to keep the fire hot.”

The outside opportunities were part of a calculated gamble by the undersized Jets to avoid getting roughed up on the inside by LL-H forward Brett Poissant, who had 28 points the first time the Lakes played in Painesdale and had double-doubles in both games he played against the Jets this year.

Poissant was strong but not dominant with 11 points and 10 boards, but that didn’t help Jeffers much because Roose re-set a career high (33) he set in a Jan. 10, 2013 game against Jeffers.

“I know three is better than two, but you would think it’s a lower-percentage shot. Roose proved us wrong,” Jets coach Duane Snell said.

Poissant’s back-to-back putbacks to start the second half put the Lakes’ lead into double digits. Roose had 10 more points in the third quarter, including a pair of threes and a volleyball-style tap in the last few seconds to make it 44-27 after three.

Three quick buckets from Luke Monette early in the fourth finished off the Jets and set up a date for the Lakes with traditional nemesis Forest Park at 6 p.m. Monday in Escanaba.

“It’s such a relief, and I’m so happy for the guys that came into the gym and worked their tails off all summer long and set this as the goal. For them to be rewarded for that is just awesome,” Kumpula said.

Jeffers was led by 11 points from Zachary Nicholas, all in the first half.

“They took us out of our game plan. We knew we had to keep the score in the 30s or 40s to have an opportunity to beat them and we didn’t,” Snell said.

The Jets finish the season 12-10. Their only losses to graduation are brothers Alex and Christopher Outinen, each of whom scored nine points.

“They experienced a championship when they were sophomores, and in their junior and senior year, they lost to only one Class D team, and that’s Lake Linden-Hubbell, so it tells you something right there. It’s pretty impressive to go two years only losing to one Class D team and that’s because of the Outinen boys,” Snell said.

The rest of the all-tournament team included Trevor Ongie and Poissant from LL-H, Alex Outinen and Nicholas from Jeffers, and Carl Kangas of Dollar Bay.

For the Lakes (19-3), the memories of this one are not to be enjoyed now, as the Trojans loom on Monday night.

“We put the trophy in the trophy case and we go to practice (today) and we work hard ’til that game and work hard for that win,” Roose said.