HOUGHTON LAKE — Surviving a rugged overtime game with Beaverton at home on Tuesday, Dec. 14, for a 35-28 victory in the Jack Pine Conference, the Houghton Lake boys basketball team was off to a 2-0 start to the season.
It was the first of four consecutive home games for the Bobcats scheduled before the Christmas break. The Bobcats were also scheduled to host Gayord St. Mary in a non-conference game Tuesday night, before playing Jack Pine foe Sanford Meridian Early College on Friday. Houghton Lake and Gladwin enter the game 2-0 in the conference. The Flying G’s were 2-1 entering the week.
Beaverton proved a difficult out. The Bobcats found themselves in an 8-8 tie after the first quarter, and could only manage a 17-16 lead at the half. Scoring remained tight in the third period, with each team netting six points, leaving the Bobcats holding a 23-22 edge going into the fourth quarter.
The Beavers outscored the Bobcats, 4-3 in a slow moving fourth quarter to tie the game, 27-27 and force overtime. Houghton Lake prevailed with a 9-2 scoring advantage in the extra session.
“It was a good win for our program,” Houghton Lake coach Jeff Goodwin said. “We have reached a point where we beat bad teams, compete with good teams. But, we have not been competitive with great programs.
“Getting this win is a big step in the right direction. I am proud of the boys and what they accomplished tonight. We had talked all week about toughness. Coach Johnston always had one of the toughest teams, and we felt we needed to match that.
“We won the rebounding battle, 46-23, and I felt that we were after every loose ball. There more bodies on the (floor) for us in this game than all of last season. I cannot say enough about Jackson (Blanchard), Cameron and Joey and what they did defensively.”
Goodwin was also impressed with the job Houghton Lake’s front line did, with its three-man rotation combining for 18 points on 8-of-29 shooting and 21 rebounds. The Bobcats pestered Beaverton into just 35 percent shooting in the paint, denying the Beavers offensive rebounds.
The bench stepped up big, too.
“We cannot win this game without our bench,” said Goodwin. “We had three of our top six players get into early foul trouble. Robert Press, Cameron Allport adn Lucas Vick all played extended stretches. Robert and Lucas snagged five offensive boards, and were solid on defense.”
Shawn McKinley led the Bobcats in scoring with 12 points and Cameron Sidelko contributed 11. John Steckler chipped in with six points, while Brock Decker and Joey Peterson each added three.
Steckler also grabbed 10 rebounds, seven off the defensive glass, while McKinley hauled down seven, with five defensive boards. Steckler dished out a team-leading three assists, while Sidelko and Peterson distributed two apiece. Peterson and Steckler each had two steals.
The Bobcats opened the season with a convincing 53-36 victory over the Gladwin Flying G’s on Thursday, Dec. 7.
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