HARBOR BEACH — Not so fast, Greater Thumb East.
The defending league champions are bound and determined to get back into the conference title chase after all.
In as close as a “must win” game as there is in January, Harbor Beach brought everyone closer to the top here Friday night, earning a thrilling 52-51 overtime decision over league-leading Marlette.
Sophomore Aaron Ginther drained a free throw with seven seconds left to make for the winning margin. Marlette had a chance as time wound down, but its desperation — but open — three-point attempt clanked off the rim as time expired.
Harbor Beach, Marlette and Sandusky now each have one league loss, setting up what should be an exciting second half to the GTE season.
“It’s going to take the whole weekend to wipe the smile off my face,” said Harbor Beach coach Ron Wruble. “We were concerned about their ball handlers and their quickness. Early on, they were breaking us down and (our defense) really wasn’t working. So, we went to Plan B and kind of frustrated them. We slowed down the tempo and we were able to hit some shots.”
Nobody hit more important shots for the Pirates than senior Sean Sorenson, who poured in a season-high 20 points, including a critical three-pointer in the overtime, answering Marlette’s triple just seconds into the extra session.
“The huge key for us tonight was the play of Sorenson,” Wruble said. “He’s been struggling and he’s been kind of frustrated.”
Sorenson more than doubled his season’s scoring average, carrying the Pirates in the second half with his clutch outside shooting.
“Tonight, he played like he’s capable of playing,” Wruble said. “And I expect that kind of play from him the rest of the year.”
Andrew Siemen added nine points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Ginther chipped in six points and Eli Kraft notched five, including a pair of free throws with 1:10 left which wound up being the final points in regulation.
The Pirates rallied to grab a five-point edge early in the fourth quarter before the Raiders managed a comeback of their own. The Raiders actually had a chance to win in regulation, but missed a shot as time expired.
Marlette’s Alex Storm drilled an early three-pointer to open overtime, but Sorenson responded seconds later to tie it at 51. The Pirates wound up with the ball with 1:49 to play and ran the clock down to 26.4 seconds before calling a timeout.
Ginther then drove the lane and was fouled. After a shaky miss on the first attempt, the less-than-50-percent foul shooter calmly knocked in the second toss.
Marlette still had one last chance. After a timeout, the Raiders moved the ball up the right side and got off a decent 22-footer, though it banged off the front rim as the buzzer sounded.
For the Raiders, Storm knocked in 17 points while Kyle Hall chipped in nine and Kolby Lange eight.
Wruble was pleased with the play of his reserves, including Dustin Mazure and Jordan Booms, both of whom provided quality minutes in the paint.
“We juggled the lineup to shake things up a bit,” he said. “The kids did a nice job. That’s what being part of a team is all about.”
Marlette, now 10-2 overall, 3-1 GTE, is off until next Friday when it takes on Sandusky.
Meanwhile, Harbor Beach, now 7-3 overall, 2-1 GTE, hosts Mayville on Tuesday before hosting rival Ubly next Friday.
Marlette led 11-2 at one point of the first quarter, settling for a 13-7 edge. Harbor Beach pulled to within 25-22 at halftime, and behind 10 third-quarter points from Sorenson, grabbed a 42-41 advantage heading to the final eight minutes.
Ubly 73, Bad Axe 66
UBLY — A big second quarter helped Ubly knock off Bad Axe.
The Hatchets actually led 20-16 after one quarter, but the Bearcats used a 21-10 second-quarter edge to take control.
Ubly then outscored the Hatchets 16-10 in the third quarter to grab a 53-40 lead.
Marshall Leipprandt led the Bearcats with 17 points while Lenny Nowicki added 14 and Jason Kaufman 11.
Bad Axe had Ethan Sisco with 18 points, including four three-pointers, while Jeremy Pawlowski added 16 and Spencer Kelly notched 11.
Sandusky 49, Brown City 38
SANDUSKY — Sandusky shook off a slow start to beat Brown City.
The Redskins trailed 8-2 after one quarter before using a 19-6 second-quarter run to bag a 21-14 lead.
Chase Baysdell led the Redskins with 19 points while Jordan Coats netted 11.
Charles Baird had 13 points for Brown City.
Caseville 69, Port Hope 27
CASEVILLE — Caseville picked up its first win of the season by beating Port Hope.
The Eagles led 36-12 at the half.
Charlie Karafa led the winners with 13 points while Tommy Kennedy had 12 and Tyler Claydon 10.
“The boys played great tonight,” said Caseville coach Ron Bergman. “It’s been a long time coming, but we got our first win. They hustled, found the open man and attacked the basket.”
Port Hope had Travis Phillips with 11 points.
USA 46, Reese 42
REESE — Unionville-Sebewaing Area jumped out to a big lead and then had to hang on to clip Reese.
USA led 32-16 at the break, but the Rockets used a 14-2 third-quarter edge to get back into the game.
Andrew Botello scored 14 points for USA while Sean McBrayer netted 10.
Caleb Gnatkowski had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets.
BCAS 62, EPBP 48
BAY CITY — Bay City All Saints followed up Wednesday’s thrilling win over Unionville-Sebewaing Area with another solid effort over Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port.
The Cougars led 16-12 after one quarter, 33-22 at the half and 41-32 after three quarters.
Drew Janer led the Cougars with 22 points while Garrett Bowker netted 18 and Nick Dorion 10.
The Lakers had Brody Lawrence with 16 points while Chase Voelker notched 13 and Paul Zwemmer nine.
Deckerville 60, Peck 43
Mayville 46, Owen-Gage 27
Kingston 47, CPS 34
Port Hope 41, Caseville 29
North Huron 59, Akron-Fairgrove 23
|Harbor Beach’s Andrew Siemen goes high in the air for a shot over a pair of Marlette defenders in the first half Friday night.|
|Dustin Mazure of Harbor Beach rises over Marlette’s BJ Mellstead.|
|Marlette’s Alex Storm makes a strong move to the basket against Harbor Beach’s Andrew Siemen (40).|