2018-02-08 / Sports

EPBP outlasts rival Bad Axe, 50-48

By: Mike Gallagher
Sports Reporter - mgallagher@mihomepaper.com

EPBP’s Brennan Wissner runs out the clock Friday night in front of a raucous student section. Wissner knocked down three triples in the Lakers 50-48 win over Bad Axe. 
Photo by Mike Gallagher EPBP’s Brennan Wissner runs out the clock Friday night in front of a raucous student section. Wissner knocked down three triples in the Lakers 50-48 win over Bad Axe. Photo by Mike Gallagher PIGEON - The Lakers were able to hang on for a key Greater Thumb West Conference victory over rival Bad Axe Friday night, 50-48.

“Anytime you can beat a quality program it’s a good win for us,” said EPBP head coach Eric Wissner. “We have not finished well in the league the last 4, 5, 6 years, we’re trying to climb the ladder, and you’ve got to win games like this.”

The victory was the Lakers’ third GTC West conference victory of the season, giving them their most conference wins since the 2013-14 season, when they went 4-7.

The game was close from the start, as the two teams were tied, 12-12 after the first quarter.

EPBP started to build up a lead in the second quarter, and held a 24-20 halftime advantage after scoring the last six points of the half.

Bad Axe came out strong in the third quarter, and outscored the Lakers, 17-12, and as time expired in the third, James Kervin scored his first points of the game, a three-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Hatchets a 37-36 lead going into the final quarter.

“The offense works well when we’re swinging the ball and looking for the open guy,” said Bad Axe head coach Mark Krug. “He (Kervin) was right there in the right spot and hit a nice shot.”

“We had a timeout with 16 seconds left,” Wissner said. “We knew they were going to move the ball, and play for one shot. We wanted to force them into a late clock and then chase the shooters off of the three point line, but we just didn’t close out to that last shooter.”

With the momentum on their side, the Hatchets scored the first bucket of the fourth, but EPBP responded with three points, to tie the game, 39-39 with 6:21 left in the game.

Bad Axe scored five of the next seven points, giving them a 45-41 lead, their biggest of the game, but EPBP responded with a triple by Brady Smith, and a basket by Troy Chappel with 4:04 gave Lakers the lead back, 46-45.

Kervin knocked down a free throw with 3:06 left to tie the game, but a score by Andrew Siegfried and two clutch free throws by Chappel with 29 seconds left sealed the win for EPBP.

Chappel, who was filling in for Nick Siegfried who was out due to illness, scored five of his seven points in the final 4:04 of the game.

“We were one guy down,” Wissner said. “I knew Troy was going to have to play a few more minutes and he stepped up and played well.”

As for what the difference in the fourth quarter was for EPBP, Wissner felt his team started to play a little bit better.

“We just got a little more active on our zone,” Wissner said. “We rebounded a bit better, we checked out on the shooters a little bit better, and it all came down to executing on offense and making a few shots.”

Krug felt the game was decided by just a few shots as well, but was happy with his team’s performance.

“I was really proud of our guys,” Krug said. “Being a young team, we’ve been making some changes and there’s been steady improvement. We needed to cut down on the fouls and turnovers, and tonight we did an excellent job at that. We didn’t have a great night shooting, and that could have made all the difference.”

The Hatchets shot 36% from the floor, and went 4-for-19 from three.

They did however outscore the Lakers, 28-26 in the second half.

“That was one of the things I was really impressed with, the maturity that is coming with our team,” Krug said of his team’s performance down the stretch. “We’re not getting frazzled like we were in January. We’re growing up and you can see it.”

The Hatchets were led in scoring by Jack Clancy, who scored 14 points, and Joe Messing who added 10.

For EPBP, Andrew Siegfried scored a team-high 14 points, Brennan Wissner scored nine points, all on three-pointers, and Karson Binder added six.

The win moved EPBP’s record to 7-6 overall, and 3-2 in conference play, while the loss for Bad Axe dropped them to 4-9 overall and 0-5 in the league.

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