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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Season Opener: Pirates clip Patriots

HARBOR BEACH — Sloppy, but effective.
That’s all Harbor Beach coach Ron Wruble could say about his team’s season-opening 50-46 Greater Thumb Conference crossover victory over Unionville-Sebewaing Area here Wednesday night.
It certainly was no masterpiece, but the defending Greater Thumb East champions are off and running.
And, in fact, at times they’re running too fast, according to their coach.
“We switched gears a bit from 100 mph with their hair on fire in the first half to at least somewhat in control,” Wruble said. “We were in a hurry. We were not in control in the first half. 
“In the second half, we settled down a little bit and shot the ball a little better. But we still didn’t do a lot.”
USA led by as many as 10 in the second half, but the Pirates outscored the Patriots 20-8 in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. Harbor Beach converted 10-of-16 free throws over the final eight minutes, including 5-of-8 in the waning moments. 
USA actually had a chance to at least tie the game with 15 seconds to play, but missed an open jump shot. From there, Harbor Beach’s Aaron Ginther drained two free throws with 2.3 seconds left to make for the winning margin.
“December basketball, it’s tough,” said USA coach Mark Gainforth. “You have to find a way to win. Hopefully, they’ll learn from this.
“I didn’t think our defensive intensity was as good in the second half as it was in the first half.”
 And, according to Gainforth, Harbor Beach stepped up their defense when it counted.
“The difference in the game was their perimeter defensive pressure,” he said. “They defended very well and we had a hard time with it. We didn’t attack it, plain and simple.”

The Pirates were led by sophomore Andrew Siemen, who dropped in a game-high 15 points in his first varsity game. Sean Sorenson added 10 points while Ginther, another sophomore, added nine, and Scott Grekowicz netted seven.
Down the stretch, the Pirates had a freshman (Eli Kraft, six points) and the two sophomores on the floor to go along with seniors Sorenson and Grekowicz.
“With these young guys playing, this gives us something to build on and will help us get into a rotation,” Wruble said.
For USA, Andrew Botello knocked in 12 points while Nick Fletcher chipped in 10 and Dan Rieck eight.
USA held its biggest lead of 10 points with 4:50 to play in third quarter, settling for a 38-30 edge heading to the final eight minutes.
But the Pirates opened the quarter on a 9-0 spurt, capped by a Siemen hoop with 5:25 to play to give his team a 39-38 lead.
USA regained the advantage until a Grekowicz steal and layup, followed by a free throw, gave the Pirates the lead for good at 45-44 with 1:18 left.
Kraft, Sorenson and Grekowicz hit free throws in the final moments, good for a 48-46 edge.
USA’s final attempt to at least tie was thwarted when the Patriots missed a contested long jump shot from the wing and the Pirates rebounded with 2.3 seconds to play.
“I’m not sure if we lost a little confidence (from the first half),” Gainforth said. “But when you have a guy right in your face and you can’t run your offense...”
The game was quite sloppy from the start. The Pirates led 7-0 1:30 into the contest before USA rallied for a 13-10 lead after one quarter. Botello scored seven points in the second quarter for the Patriots, who took a 27-20 advantage to the break.
“We thought we could get out and run on them,” Wruble said. “But actually in the first half, they were faster than us.”

Bad Axe 71, Mayville 27
Standish Sterling 68, EPBP 49
BCAS 68, Garber 57
Harbor Beach 50, USA 46  
Ubly 58, Reese 49
Yale 55, Brown City 40

Bad Axe 54, North Huron 33
Vassar 53, Bridgeport 36

Deckerville at A-Fairgrove
Peck at Owen-Gage
CPS at Port Hope

Sandusky at EPBP (B/G DH 7:30 p.m.)
Millington at Vassar (B/G DH 7:30 p.m.)
Ubly at USA
Harbor Beach at North Huron
Brown City at Imlay City
Marlette at Reese
Saginaw Arts at Owen-Gage (B/G DH)

Mayville at Cass City
Ubly at USA
Harbor Beach at North Huron
Marlette at Reese

Sandusky at EPBP (B/G DH 6 p.m.)
Millington at Vassar (B/G DH 6 p.m.)
Saginaw BV at BCAS
Owen-Gage at Peck
A-Fairgrove at Deckerville
Port Hope at CPS
Saginaw Arts at Owen-Gage (B/G DH)

USA's Dakota Gangler and Harbor Beach's Scott Grekowicz battle in the paint.

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