HARBOR BEACH — Ron Wruble finally got a chance to relax — a little.
The Harbor Beach coach has endured quite a week. After his team lost out on the Greater Thumb East championship last Thursday with a home setback to Sandusky, he had to re-energize his Pirates for a rematch with the Redskins in the first game of the district tournament Monday.
After that revenge win, the Pirates had to gear up for a district semifinal showdown with rival Ubly.
And after his team’s 57-46 decision over the Bearcats here Wednesday night, Wruble finally took the time to enjoy the scenery.
“I’m going to sit back, watch and eat some popcorn,” Wruble said prior to Wednesday’s second semifinal game pitting Unionville-Sebewaing Area and Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port.
Wruble’s Pirates will take on USA in Friday’s district championship game after the Patriots earned a 44-29 win over the Lakers.
Harbor Beach and USA split games this season, with each winning on their home floors. The Pirates picked up a 50-46 decision in the opening game of the season while the Patriots came back with a 79-47 victory during the middle part of the year.
“We beat USA early, and then they came back and smoked us over there, so...” Wruble said. “We weren’t playing great ball at that point, but... I expect it to be another battle. It won’t be easy.”
USA coach Mark Gainforth has the same outlook for the finale.
“We’re extremely happy to be in the finals, but we have to take it up another notch,” he said. “Harbor Beach is a good, physical team that plays solid defense. We can’t let them get off to a good start like they did against Ubly. Playing catch up against them will not be good for us.”
Ubly first-year coach Ken Pichla led the Bearcats to an impressive 17-5 mark this season.
He had nothing but good things to say about his entire roster.
“Getting to know these young men, knowing what kind of kids they are, and how they have been raised by their parents, that’s been special,” he said. “You understand what kind of character they have. They never gave me a cross look... They did everything I wanted of them.”
Ubly loses five seniors — Brandon Glaza, Tyler Peruski, Eric Booms, Nathan Sorenson and Lenny Nowicki.
The Bearcats, though, have plenty of talent coming back.
“Next year should be a little easier,” Pichla said. “I have some things implemented now with the juniors and they will know what I want of them. It will come with time.”
Like Pichla, EPBP coach Jeremy Macejewski was in his first year with the Lakers.
But unlike Pichla, who was on the coaching staff for many prior seasons, Macejewski was new to the Laker district this year.
“The biggest thing is that I have had these seniors for just one year,” he said. “It’s taken us a while. You could tell that even tonight... It takes us a second to get on the same page.
“I told the kids after that I probably learned more from them this year than they have learned from me. Cohesiveness takes time.
“I’m excited about the future. We have some kids now that are going to be with us for a few years.”
The Lakers lose five seniors — Brody Lawrence, Sam VanTifflin, Chase Voelker, Tim Warack and Peter Mead.