HARBOR BEACH — With points at a premium, Unionville-Sebewaing Area picked a good time for its best all-around defensive effort of the season.
The Patriots stymied Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port from the start here Wednesday night, using stingy defense and timely shooting en route to a 44-29 victory in the Class C district semifinals.
The 13-9 Patriots advance to Friday night’s district championship game against 16-5 Harbor Beach — a winner in Wednesday’s other semifinal matchup.
Here Wednesday night, USA limited the Lakers to just 10 first-half points, pressuring their guards from the start. After falling behind by double digits at the half, the Lakers were never able to recover.
“We struggled with their defensive pressure,” said EPBP coach Jeremy Macejewski. “And that’s nothing new this year. We just had a hard time getting into our offense because of the pressure.
“I give them credit. They had a real nice defensive game plan.”
USA’s previous defensive best was yielding just 15 points to Mayville back in the early part of the season. And while that effort’s impressive, Wednesday’s performance was better, coming at the right time of the season.
“Defensively, we just tried to take away their sets — and I think we did a nice job of doing that,” said USA coach Mark Gainforth. “We knew Lakers have had some trouble at times scoring this season. We really wanted to push it into the 50s or 60s, but we weren’t able to get there.”
Indeed. USA didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, but did enough to pull away.
“Neither team had a really good flow to the game,” Gainforth said.
USA’s Sean McBrayer was the game’s best offensive player, knocking in a season-high 15 points. Andrew Botello added eight points while Dan Rieck and Dakota Gangler notched six apiece.
“Sean probably played his best game of the year,” Gainforth said. “I thought he did a nice job on both offense and on defense. I thought his play tonight was a real key for us.”
For the Lakers, Paul Zwemmer had nine points while Chase Voelker added seven and Brody Lawrence six.
USA led 20-10 at the half and 34-21 after three quarters. After EPBP cut the gap to 10 with 6:54 left, McBrayer and Botello recorded three-point plays, pushing the Patriots’ advantage to 17 with 3:09 to play.
“If you would have told me we would have held USA to 44 points, I would have said we’d have a chance to win the game,” Macejewski said. “We just weren’t able to score enough.”
The Lakers finish 5-16.
USA’s Dakota Gangler takes a hook shot over EPBP’s Paul Zwemmer.
|USA’s Sean McBrayer goes up for two of his season-high 15 points for the Patriots in the second half of his team’s 44-29 win over Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port.|