The Lakeland boys’ basketball team looked to end a losing streak when Northland Pines came to town on Friday, Jan. 10.
The Thunderbirds found a way to win in the second half and won 69-61.
“I thought our kids dug in,” coach Rich Fortier said. “We did what we had to do. We made a few plays defensively. You have to get the defensive rebounds.”
In the first half, the Thunderbirds were finding a way to dig up a decent lead. Collin Quade hit a 3-pointer. Then, Michael Ouimette made a basket after several offensive rebounds.
Alex Fortier hit a basket in the post. Next, Jacob Borak made a shot after an offensive rebound. All the Thunderbirds were chipping in.
Quade hit another 3-pointer on a Nolan St. Germaine assist then Quade followed it up with a bucket off a steal. The Thunderbirds led 14-7 and the Eagles took a timeout.
“I love it,” coach Fortier said. “I don’t think (Collin) (has ever) scored that much in his life.”
Pines’ Ryan Peterson answered some of the Thunderbird baskets with points of his own. He led the Eagles with 20 points.
Borak continued to keep the Thunderbirds’ offense going in the first half. He scored five points to put Lakeland up by seven again.
“Jake kept us afloat a little bit offensively in the first half,” coach Fortier said. “Jake did a nice job in the first half — helped us build a big lead.”
Tim Crisco scored a basket off a Lakeland timeout.
But back came the Eagles. They went on a 6-0 run and were creeping up closer to the Lakeland lead before halftime.
Before then, Matt Holmes came off the Lakeland bench and hit a big 3-pointer to make sure they went up at the half.
The Thunderbirds led 31-26 at halftime.
Pines came out firing in the second half. They wen ton a 14-5 run and led 40-36 with 11:23 left to go in the game.
Alex Fortier answered one of Pines’ 3-pointers with a big one of his own. Then the Eagles did the same thing after that.
Luke Larsen came off the bench and played some big minutes. He got fouled and made two free throws.
“Luke played important minutes in the second half,” coach Fortier said. “His ability to get to the free throw line was important to us creating some offense through other sources.”
Shortly after, Ouimette started to go off. He made three baskets, one a 3-pointer, in a short period of time. Pines still had an eight-point lead.
Then, Holmes hit another 3-pointer that gave the Thunderbirds the momentum for the rest of the game. He had six big points on the night.
“He puts his nose straight forward, makes shot after shot in practice,” coach Fortier said. “We don’t give up shooting and we don’t give up intelligence. He earned minutes tonight.”
Ouimette also hit a bucket off a Quade assist and the Thunderbirds were now done just one.
Peterson countered with a 2-pointer off of Pines’ timeout. That was one of the final Eagles’ baskets as the Lakeland defense set in.
“We caused a bunch of turnovers in the 1-3-1,” coach Fortier said. “We kind of stymied them, we got them confused for just a little bit.”
Quade hit three of his 25 points to tie the game at 59-59. Then Ouimette made another shot. Ouimette had 14 points in the second half.
“Mike answered the bell. Hit a big three, hit a couple jumpers, made something near the rim,” coach Fortier said. “He did what he had to do. He came in and he said, ‘I’ll put my stamp on this game’ and he did the last five minutes, six minutes. He put his stamp on the game and it was beautiful.” The Lakeland defense continued to play stout, forcing the Eagles into turnovers and bad shots. The Thunderbirds made their free throws to salt away the victory.
“Give our guys credit. We did what we had to do. We won a game,” coach Fortier said.
Their next game comes tonight at Mosinee starting at 6 p.m. Coverage of that game will be in the Jan. 17 edition of The Times
Then they play Friday, Jan. 17 at Medford starting at 7:15 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]