2016-17 Herald Times All-Area Boys Basketball Team
NORTHERN MICHIGAN – Six Otsego County boys basketball players appeared on the All-Ski Valley Conference team Monday.
That included St. Mary freshman Brady Hunter and Johannesburg-Lewiston sophomore Tyson Claeys, who each made the first team.
Hunter, a second-year starter, finished with 250 points, 68 assists, 60 rebounds and 52 steals. He shot 49 percent from the floor.
Claeys, also a second-year starter, averaged 16.6 points and 7.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
St. Mary's Andrew Greif, who wrapped up the regular season as a double-double machine, debuted on the second team. The senior scored 146 points and added 286 rebounds.
St. Mary's Drew Long and Josh Powers and J-L's Tanner Shimel rounded out the All-Conference team as honorable mentions.
The Snowbirds (14-7) and Cardinals (6-15) each exited the postseason in the first game of their respective districts.
Rocky 3rd quarter costs Cardinals in Class C district semifinal
OSCODA – Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Troy Huff has preached about it all season long to his boys basketball team.
The Cardinals (6-15, 5-11 SVC) must play well in all four quarters to win, and Wednesday, they came up just one period shy.
Whittemore-Prescott topped J-L 60-43 in the Class C district semifinal at Oscoda, outscoring J-L 22-2 in the third quarter.
Tyson Claeys paced J-L with 15 points.
"We laid an egg in the third quarter, and we didn't play very good defense that part of the game," Huff said. "They had their post players working well on the glass when we missed shots, and, all of a sudden, we couldn't handle their press in that quarter."
J-L's defense was definitely an issue.
"They set screens for their guard, and he was hot," J-L junior Kyle May said. "He was dropping 3s and cutting to the basket.
"When we stepped up, they dished it down. The biggest problem is our weak side didn't come to help, and they got easy buckets."
J-L didn't have too much of a problem with W-P's press in the first half. It trailed only 20-17 and 29-28 after the first and second quarters, respectively.
Caesen Campbell came up big, scoring eight points in the first half – the most he's ever had in a single half.
"The first half we did well with their press," Huff said. "The second half, we had too many turnovers that were unforced."
J-L outscored W-P 13-9 in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Madej helped J-L with 12 points which included him finishing 4 of 5 from the 3-point line, while Claeys was 7 of 16 from the floor and May chipped in two assists.
Tanner Shimel added six points, four assists and four steals and played what Huff described as "really, really good defense."
J-L graduates seniors Max Roberts and Tyre Curtis.
A bulk of its team is expected to return next year.
"We're a young team and looking forward to getting them all back next year," said Huff, who returns all five starters.
Added May: "There's a lot of excitement. We're going to have designated practices at some point (in the off-season), so we can get good chemistry. We want to get in the weight room, too, so we can actually win a district next year.
"We had a pretty good season, despite our record. It was a great learning experience. Since we lost (four starters from a year ago), we had to find new chemistry. It was just a rough start.
"We ended on a good note because we won a couple of games and started flowing. The thing we need to do next year is play together and play a full four quarters."
Cardinals end regular season with tough 2nd-half collapse at Inland Lakes
The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team couldn't have asked for a tougher way to finish the regular season Thursday.
The Cardinals (6-14, 5-11 SVC) fumbled a 13-point halftime lead and lost to host Inland Lakes 51-47 in conference action.
The score was knotted 47-47 with under a minute left, and Inland Lakes managed to get the go-ahead basket on a put-back attempt. The Cardinals had one final possession to tie the score or take the lead, but it couldn't get the shot off they wanted.
Tanner Shimel led J-L with 12 points, while Tyson Claeys had 10.
"The takeaway from this one is we knew what was working for us in the first half," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We were patient with the ball and playing unselfishly, and that works for us.
"We just got our defense out of position in the second half."
A slow, methodical offense gave the Cardinals 12-6 and 26-17 leads after the first and second quarters, respectively.
Their offense sputtered in the third, and they managed to carry only a 34-31 advantage into the final eight minutes.
"We were extremely patient in the first half and getting great looks," Huff continued. "In the second half, we were getting great looks, too, but they didn't fall for us. They cut the lead then.
"We just got off of our rhythm."
Tyler Madej scored nine points for the Cardinals, while Kyle May added eight, Caesen Campbell had six and Nick Mays had two.
J-L now turns its attention to the Class C district tournament where it'll face Whittemore-Prescott in a semifinal game Wednesday, March 8 at Oscoda.
Opportunistic Snowbirds edge tired Cardinals during senior night
GAYLORD – Call the St. Mary boys basketball team opportunistic.
With rival Johannesburg-Lewiston playing a game the night before, the Snowbirds knew the Cardinals would be a little tired.
They took advantage of that tiredness in the second quarter, using a 12-0 run to distance themselves from J-L early on in Ski Valley play Tuesday in Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.
St. Mary (14-6, 11-5 SVC) held on to top the Cardinals, 54-45.
"We really took advantage of the fact that they played last night, and we had fresh legs since we haven't played since last Wednesday," St. Mary coach Ken Blust said. "So we really wanted to push the court. It's a young team (J-L), and a lot of times, it's tough getting back on defense, so we took advantage of that."
The Cardinals (6-13, 5-10 SVC) opened the second with a basket that gave them a brief 16-15 lead, their only one of the night, but St. Mary responded with a 12-0 run that J-L couldn't slow down.
First, it was Paul Jameson, who cut to the hoop and scored off a pass from Drew Long, while Brady Hunter (game-high 24 points) scored off a drive to the hoop and once in transition.
Nic Breckow scored once off a drive and another time off a cut with Hunter and Andrew Greif earning assists on each play, respectively.
Greif's put-back capped off the run with 3:05 left in the half.
St. Mary carried a 31-24 lead into halftime, despite leading the Cardinals only 15-14 to end the first quarter.
"We definitely looked a little doggy," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We finally got our legs back underneath us (in the second half), and I thought we started to take care of the ball better."
St. Mary led by 10 points, 47-37, with 1:48 left in the game, but J-L scrapped back to make it a close finish. Tanner Shimel and Tyson Claeys each buried 3-pointers late to cut the Cardinals' deficit to only six points, but then their offense sputtered out.
They settled for long outside shots instead of working the ball inside like it had tried to do for most of the game. It cost them.
"We weren't being patient, and I think that comes with being young, too (three sophomore starters)," Huff said. "We're not totally understanding what the defense was giving us.
"We needed to work it around us and go for two points at a time – one basket at a time. Like I told them, we're growing as a team and are still growing leaps and bounds. That's all I can ask for."
Greif finished with a double-double (11 points, 13 rebounds) for St. Mary, while Jameson added eight points and three rebounds.
Both saved probably their best performances for senior night.
"Andrew Greif, that was probably one of his most energetic games I've seen him play in this gym, and for him to leave it here for his last time in this gym, (that was critical for us)," Blust said.
"(Jameson), that was probably the best game of his career."
Blust elected to start four of St. Mary's five starters (Josh Nowicki didn't dress because of an injury). That included Noah Kole, who hasn't played since being hospitalized over a month ago.
"It was very rewarding and humbling to see the work and energy and his dedication to this team," Blust said. "He's been around since the injury occurred to him, and our thoughts and prayers have been with him the whole time through it.
"It was just an honor, No. 1, to recognize all these seniors tonight and also be able to go out there and start all four of them. There was something on the line tonight (second place in the Ski Valley), and we were taking pride in that."
Shimel scored 16 points to pace J-L. That included three 3s, while Claeys ended with 14 points and a pair of 3s as well.
Tyler Madej and Caesen Campbell each scored five points, Kyle May pitched in three and Nick Mays added two.
Both May and Claeys hit long 3-pointers at period-ending buzzers during the game.
Newfound chemistry to guide Cardinals in district tournament
JOHANNESBURG – Everyone expected the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team to take a step backward after it graduated such a star-studded senior class a year ago.
But no one predicted such a slow start to the winter for the Cardinals. That's because it wasn't by their doing.
Blame the weather.
Game after game and practice after practice, their time on the court was postponed because of snow days. Two months into the season – when everyone had played almost eight games in – the Cardinals were entering only their fourth and fifth games.
That cost them on the court. But as they got more and more time back on the hardwood, their play progressed, and they started to flow as a team and get the most out of each game.
Now J-L wants to use that newfound team chemistry when it faces Whittemore-Prescott in the Class C district semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 at Oscoda.
A championship berth against the host Owls or Lincoln Alcona is on the line for whichever team wins the semifinal.
"We've finally gotten time on the court with one another, and that's been huge," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "I thought we played one of our basketball games (against Forest Area two weeks ago), and we played all four quarters strong.
"I definitely feel like we're peaking at the right time now."
That rhythm has come by way of guards Tanner Shimel and Kyle May finding their big men, including Tyson Claeys, while swing man Tyler Madej has started knocking down shots, too.
"We're coming into our own right now," May said. "We're getting good team chemistry because at the beginning of the year we had a lot of snows days and didn't have a lot of games with everything canceled. Now we're having two to three games a week and finding team chemistry.
"Now we're getting to know each other and knowing our moves."
Caesen Campbell, Nick Mays and Tyre Curtis have offered a shot in the arm as role players for the Cardinals, while they have reserves in Joe Bush and Max Roberts ready to help as well.
J-L just must focus on keeping its offense efficient, especially against zone defenses, which have troubled it from time to time.
"Some teams have seen that we're struggling against zones," May said. "We've been working on zone defense, and we've been trying to drive into the lane and hit backdoor cuts, and hit Tyson in the middle or either side of the backdoor cuts.
"We've really worked on passing (against the zone), and that's been our key. We're a fast enough team to catch them on fast breaks, too."
Campbell inspires Cardinals to late comeback win vs. Bulldogs
Caesen Campbell picked the right time to have a breakout game for the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team.
The junior's stellar fourth quarter pushed the Cardinals past Inland Lakes in a 45-42 comeback win Wednesday.
He scored only six points, but he played heads-up against the Bulldogs' zone defense to make open baskets and passes.
"The difference of the game was Caesen stepped up at the right time late in the fourth and hit some backdoor cuts and put the ball in the hoop," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "That was pivotal late for us in the game, and he put us back ahead.
"He played super, super defense as well."
The Cardinals trailed 32-28 after the third quarter but gained the lead midway through the fourth – even outscoring Inland Lakes 17-10 in the period. They were behind 11-8 and 23-20 after the first and second quarters, respectively.
During their fourth-quarter comeback, Tyler Madej scored six points, despite struggling to score in the first half, while Tanner Shimel and Kyle May each came up with timely steals late.
Campbell took care of the rest.
"They're really coming together and playing really well," said Huff, whose team has gained steamed as it approaches the Class C district tournament.
"Caesen excelled in the fourth and had some backdoor cuts and handled the pass and laid it in off the glass. He looked to be an offensive threat which was huge during an opportune time we needed to score. He played really well late in the game."
Tyson Claeys led J-L with 23 points, followed by Madej with eight and Shimel and May with four apiece.
Jordan Hurst paced the Bulldogs with 16 points which included four 3-pointers, while Ian Clancy totaled 14 points (three 3s).
The Cardinals (6-11, 5-8 SVC) return to action when they host Onaway for a conference game Friday, Feb. 24.
BELLAIRE – This one will sting for awhile.
But it'll also build confidence for the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team which fell just short Friday at Bellaire.
The Cardinals (5-11, 4-8 SVC) had two chances to win the game or send it to overtime down the stretch. Instead, it was the sixth-ranked Eagles that held on for a 51-48 win over J-L.
The win clinched a share of the Ski Valley title for Bellaire.
"Confidence is what I talked about to them in the locker room," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "It's all about how we've progressed, and I said to them, 'This isn't even the same team we were six or seven games ago.' We're getting better every game.
"And that's all I can ask for is for us to continue to get better and continue to build. That's what they're doing."
Trailing 49-46 with 39 seconds left, J-L's Tyler Madej attempted a 3-pointer to knot the score, but it rimmed out.
The Eagles converted on a pair of foul shots on the ensuing possession to make it 51-46 just eight seconds later. Madej hit a two to trim J-L's deficit on the next trip down the court.
A Bellaire turnover gave J-L the ball with four seconds left and the Cardinals trailing, 51-48. Huff drew up a play for Tanner Shimel to take the game-tying 3 off a screen at the top of the arc. However, the sophomore fumbled the catch.
Bellaire recovered the ball and held on to improve to 16-1 overall, despite Shimel heaving a prayer from almost mid-court at the buzzer.
"That's just tough, especially for him being a sophomore," Huff said. "We played phenomenal ball, and it stinks to lose like that."
The Cardinals had to fight back to have a chance for the win.
They trailed 14-8 and 28-20 after the first and second quarters, respectively, but Madej willed his team to a comeback in the third and fourth quarters.
He scored six points in the third quarter that inspired a 12-6 run. His jumper with 2:38 left in the third cut J-L's deficit to only four points.
Bellaire carried a 38-34 lead into the final eight minutes.
"We came out guns blazing, and we wanted to win," Madej said. "We've just been practicing and working hard, and I finally built some confidence in myself during the comeback.
"I was just playing through it and trying to talk to them through it (the halftime deficit). We were playing with heart and telling each other we could do it."
A 12-4 run was what J-L used to knot the score in the fourth quarter which saw Madej bang in a shot down low with 3:27 remaining to make it 44-44.
Shortly afterward, Madej used a dribble-drive and a pass down to the block to Shimel, who scored on a bunny to tie the score 46-46 with 2:19 left, to get the Cardinals back in it once again.
"We talked about being patient at halftime, and Tyler is a hell of a dribble-driver," Huff said. "He dribble-drives really well, and a lot of people don't' respect him because of his body size, and he has a really nice jumper.
"We talked about that, dribble-driving, and if they closed out, he could drop down (a pass) to the weak side because that's where his game is. Every player has a go-to move, and that's his go-to move."
Bellaire went on to score five of the final seven points.
The loss aside, Huff was happy with how his team willed its way back from its eight-point halftime deficit and almost won.
"That's some of the best basketball I've ever had the pleasure of coaching," he said. "I even said that to them. We had a hell of a team last year, but this group is coming together full fold right now. They're not giving up easy.
"We were down by 10 or 12 at one point, and they fought right back to get it back to zero. They never quit, kept fighting and they're really coming together as at team."
The Cardinals return to action when they host Inland Lakes for a Ski Valley game Wednesday, Feb. 22.
They're looking to build some more confidence after their loss to Bellaire.
"We're building our confidence a lot," Madej said. "It's getting us ready for districts."
Cardinals put together 'complete game' in win over Warriors
The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team played one of its most complete games on the offensive end Wednesday.
And the Cardinals were rewarded with a 68-42 win over fourth-place Forest Area in Ski Valley play at home.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
"What I thought we did really well was we were patient with the ball and knocked down some good looks," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We knocked down some 3s and ran in transition. That really turned it around for us, and we really played a complete game in all four quarters tonight."
The Cardinals (5-10, 4-7 SVC) made a statement in the first half.
They led 17-12 and 35-21 after the first and second quarters, respectively, utilizing play from Tyson Claeys and Tanner Shimel.
Claeys pounded the ball in the post and scored 18 of his 22 points in the second and third quarters alone, while Shimel scored all 16 of his points in the first half, cashing in on two 3-pointers.
The Cardinals took a 51-35 lead into the fourth quarter, a period where they outscored the Warriors 17-7 to secure the win.
Spearheading much of J-L's play offensively was guard Kyle May, who finished with six steals, six assists and four points.
"Kyle May played phenomenal defense and had several steals," Huff said. "He played really, really tough defense."
Tyler Madej added 11 points for the Cardinals, while Caesen Campbell helped by scoring five points in the second half.
"Caesen really attacked the basket for us," Huff said.
Nick Mays pitched in six points, two steals and two assists, while Max Roberts and Tyre Curtis each added two points.
Late 3-pointer lifts Trojans over Cardinals
The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team suffered a tough defeat after host Central Lake made a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to come back and beat the Cardinals 47-45 in Ski Valley play Friday.
"In the fourth quarter, Central Lake made a couple of big shots and a couple of big 3s to take the lead," J-L coach Troy Huff said.
Tanner Shimel scored 20 points to lead the Cardinals, who held onto the lead for most of the game.
Tyson Claeys added 10 points, followed by Tyler Madej with five, Caesen Campbell and Kyle May with four apiece and Nick Mays with two.
J-L (4-2, 3-7 SVC) shot 11 of 20 from the foul line.
"We played really well, and we played really well in transition," Huff said. "The shots were going in. We came up just a little short."
Hornets use clutch foul shooting to edge Cardinals
The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team hung with one of the Ski Valley's top programs Wednesday at home.
It just couldn't complete the comeback in the fourth quarter.
Pellston shot 9 of 11 from the foul line down the stretch en route to a 47-33 win over J-L, which dropped to 5-9 and 5-6 in the conference.
The Cardinals trailed only 10-9 and 19-15 after the first and second quarters, respectively, and they held serve in the third, ensuring they entered the fourth trailing only 28-24.
But they had to foul to close the gap in the final minutes, and Pellston made them pay by making their free throws.
"We fouled them a lot in the fourth to get the ball back," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "But the boys played well considering they (Pellston) are a big, long team that ran a 3-2 defense on us all night. We didn't really shoot well from the outside, but we were in the game."
Tyson Claeys led J-L with 16 points, followed by Tanner Shimel with seven and Tyler Madej and Kyle May with five apiece.
The Cardinals return to action when they visit Central Lake on Friday, Feb. 10 for another conference matchup.
Keep building: Cardinals show more growth in close loss to experienced Trojans
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team knew it was going to have some growing pains this season.
That was clear when it entered the winter with three sophomores and two juniors – including one first-year junior – in its starting lineup.
But week by week and game by game, the Cardinals have taken those challenges and have gotten better with each trip down the floor.
That much was evident in Monday's 63-54 loss to visiting Cedarville. It could have easily been a blowout once the Trojans' full-court press got rolling in the first half (seven turnovers). But the strangest thing happened at halftime: J-L improved and made a comeback.
Tyson Claeys scored 28 points, and J-L trailed only 51-50 with 4:10 left.
"It was the greatest thing that could have happened to us for them to press us the whole game to build our confidence, and it did build our confidence tonight," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We broke the press, and we got some easy transition baskets off it because of it."
The Cardinals (4-8, 3-5 SVC) limited their turnovers against the press to only two in the second half, but it was that final turnover that cost them.
Cedarville's Avry Freei took the steal from the press and scored in transition to push the Trojans' lead to 55-50 with 3:38. The momentum helped them as they went on to score six of the next eight points for a big enough lead to beat J-L.
But the Cardinals showed moxie while getting back into the game.
J-L ended the first half on a 6-2 run that saw Tyler Madej score on a runner and then him dish passes to Kyle May and Tanner Shimel in transition, ensuring their team entered the locker room down only 34-24.
The Cardinals opened the fourth quarter on a 10-3 run. They used an and-one from Claeys to trim their deficit to four points, and then Shimel buried a foul shot in the bonus to make it 51-50 with 4:10 left.
Down the stretch, the best they could do was muster a Shimel drive that made it 57-52 with 1:52 remaining as well as a 2-pointer from Caesen Campbell in the final 90 seconds.
"I can't be disappointed," Huff said. "Three sophomores and two juniors start for me tonight against a bunch of seniors and juniors. I'm proud of them. We had our opportunity to win this game, too, but it seemed like we couldn't get over that last cliff to climb."
The Cardinals gave up only eight points off their nine turnovers against Cedarville's full-court press, including just a pair of free throws they allowed in the second half.
Ball movement was key in beating the trap.
"They were looking for the middle, and then the wings were releasing," Huff said. "And then you can run in transition off of it."
Shimel finished with 12 points for the Cardinals, followed by May, Madej and Campbell with four apiece.
J-L shot just 9 of 17 from the foul line.
The Cardinals hope they can build some more off Monday's loss when they host Pellston for a Ski Valley game Wednesday, Feb. 8.
"I told them we have nothing to hang our heads about," Huff said. "They played and got a lot of great game-time experience against a press and trap. We can take this and keep building off of it.
"It's tough, but those are all the growing pains you have with a young team.
Shimel's clutch performance key as Cards win 3rd straight
Heady play late by Tanner Shimel helped the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team win its third straight Friday.
Shimel finished with 12 points, sparking the Cardinals to a 29-26 comeback win against host Mancelona in Ski Valley action.
The Cardinals (4-8, 3-6 SVC) entered the fourth quarter trailing 23-20, but they used their defense to go on a 9-3 run to earn the victory.
"In the fourth quarter, we started picking them up at half court defensively and had good ball pressure," J-L coach Troy Huff said.
Shimel came up with a pair of steals that turned into four points in transition which motivated his team's play in the process.
"He was the spark plug who got us going and got the energy for our other guys going," Huff said. "He played a phenomenal game, and he had his head screwed on right. He made some big-time shots."
The Cardinals trailed 12-4 and 17-10 after the first and second quarters. However, Shimel buried a pair of 3-pointers in the third to allow his team to close the gap almost halfway through the second half.
Tyson Claeys added 11 points for the Cardinals, followed by Tyler Madej with four and Caesen Campbell with two.
Big win: Cardinals finally gelling after snow days cost them court time
JOHANNESBURG – Snow days marred Johannesburg-Lewiston's ability to gel as a team, as it played only two games during the first month of the season and only four in the first six weeks of action.
Now the Cardinals (3-8, 2-6 SVC) are starting to find their rhythm now that they're playing again.
With only seven players available, the Cardinals ran the floor in transition, limited their turnovers and held on to beat visiting Mio 53-31 during a non-conference boys basketball game Wednesday.
"We're finally starting to gel and get everyone in a groove," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We're starting to read each other really well, and I thought we played really well and got good minutes of out what bench we had tonight with Joe (Bush) and Tyre (Curtis).
"We're finally getting some games under our belt. There's nothing as bad as not playing games at the beginning of the year. Now we're getting games under our belt and getting a rhythm. Hopefully, that'll carry over for us into our games next week as well."
The Cardinals put the game away in the first half, scoring four baskets in transition and using a 9-2 run in the first quarter to grab a commanding 17-10 lead to round out the period.
Kyle May found Tyson Claeys, who finished with a team-high 18 points, down low for a basket that gave J-L its first lead, a 10-8 advantage midway through the first.
That basket also sparked a run that saw May score in transition, Claeys hit a pair of baskets and sink three foul shots and the Cardinals' defense step up and halt Mio's ability to find easy shot attempts.
Another 7-2 run to open the second quarter helped the Cardinals distance themselves from Mio. This time it was Claeys scoring another bucket in the paint, and Tyler Madej hitting a long jumper.
J-L led Mio 29-16 at halftime and 39-29 after the third quarter.
"I thought we ran really well in transition in the first half," Huff said. "Tanner (Shimel) got into foul trouble, and that would usually hurt our transition game a bit, but we didn't break a stride when we had Tyre (eight points) come in. We only had 10 turnovers tonight, and bottom line, those two things win games."
Curtis scored four of his points in transition for the Cardinals, while Madej finished with nine points and Shimel had six.
May pitched in eight points, six assists and four steals, while Caesen Campbell rounded out J-L's effort with four points.
"Kyle May was just being antagonistic on defense tonight," Huff said. "Kyle is really coming into his own. That's the leadership we need out of guys like him. I couldn't be more prouder of him. He's the one getting our offense and defense kick started each game."
The Cardinals wrap up the week by visiting Mancelona for a Ski Valley game Friday, Feb. 3.
Success! Cards limit turnovers, play patient in win over Trojans
Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Troy Huff's recipe for success finally proved to be appetizing for his boys basketball team Monday.
The Cardinals (2-8, 2-6 SVC) limited their turnovers to 13 and were patient offensively – two keys Huff believe are musts for winning teams – en route to a 64-51 win over visiting Central Lake.
Tyson Claeys led J-L with 27 points, while Tyler Madej and Tanner Shimel each hit two 3-pointers and finished with 10 points apiece.
"It was a total group effort," Huff said. "We were patient with the ball and took care of it. It's the best game I saw them play yet, and they were patient with the ball which was most important.
"We got good looks by dribbling and penetrating when we could."
The Cardinals, who led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, got most of that penetration from guard Kyle May, who finished with only five points but tallied 11 assists with his driving.
"Kyle played a great game and was an MVP," Huff said. "We worked the ball around, and he's extremely fast. He got to the paint. When they (Central Lake) stepped up, he'd dump it off to Tyler, Tyson or Caesen (Campbell)."
Campbell finished with eight points, and Tyre Curtis scored three.
The Cardinals led 11-7 and 25-21 after the first and second quarters, respectively, and took a 44-38 advantage into the fourth.
"We broke their trap and got good looks and lay ups," Huff said.
Long road: Snowbirds finally beat rival Cards after 'hell of a climb'
JOHANNESBURG – Drew Long's ability to maintain his composure proved to be a boon for the St. Mary boys basketball team Friday.
The junior found himself in the center of a scuffle with a player from rival Johannesburg-Lewiston and drew what appeared to be a technical foul. Per St. Mary's honor code, if a student-athlete earns a technical foul, they must sit out for two periods.
The foul ultimately went down as a flagrant – a less severe call – and Long spent a few minutes on the bench to re-gather himself. He re-entered the game midway through the second quarter and used the mishap to inspire his teammates to a 47-34 win on the road.
The Snowbirds (8-4, 5-3 SVC) snapped a six-game losing streak to the Cardinals (1-8, 1-6) dating back to Feb. 4, 2013.
Long finished with a team-high 15 points and helped orchestrate a game-winning 14-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
"That (sitting out a few minutes) brought my energy back down," Long said. "I was a little too out there with the intensity of the game. It brought me back down to the level I needed to be where I could perform and make plays for my team to help us win."
Trailing 24-23 late in the third, the Snowbirds kick started a 14-0 run that helped them run away from both the Cardinals and the sloppy play that marred each team in the first half.
First, Brady Hunter scored in transition, and then Long converted on a foul shot. St. Mary closed out the third with a five-point lead thanks to Josh Nowicki burying a deep 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the quarter.
The fourth started with Josh Powers scoring down low, Hunter, who finished with 14 points, scoring again in transition and Paul Jameson coming off the bench and sinking a dagger of a 3 that ended J-L's chances of putting together a comeback.
"Those (3s by Nowicki and Jameson) were great decisions by them," St. Mary coach Ken Blust said. "They had the open looks. They've had the green light before in the past, but sometimes they've passed it up. Tonight those were good looks for them, and they were really great shots for us at the time."
Long thought St. Mary switching to a 2-3 zone to limit J-L sophomore Tyson Claeys, who scored 13 points, was key to getting the 14-0 run.
"Playing zone for most of the second half helped us because we talked about how we needed to keep running the court at halftime, so that's what we did," Long said. "We had to focus and finish and find open shots. Paul and Josh hit 3s in that sequence there, so it was just us moving the ball, taking the right shot and making sure we were not rushing, and we got the rebounds, too."
The opening 16 minutes didn't go as smoothly for either team, but the young Cardinals, who start three sophomores, did enough to keep the Ski Valley matchup competitive until late in the third quarter.
J-L secured a 7-5 lead at the end of the first after two baskets from Claeys and three foul shots from Tanner Shimel, who scored 14 points.
A 3-pointer by Long in the second gave the Snowbirds a 14-9 advantage, but four free throws between Shimel and Claeys knotted the score at 14-14 with 1:29 left before halftime.
Another 3 from Long gave St. Mary a 19-18 lead before the halftime buzzer.
"It's unfortunate (the first half was sloppy) because you'd like the rivalry games to be really high energy and good basketball, and I think it wasn't good basketball by either side, to be honest," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "I don't think we played up to our potential, and I'm sure Ken is probably saying the same thing about his team, too.
"I still say with three sophomores and two juniors – and even one junior who could be a sophomore because of how young he is – we just don't have enough once you get to that fourth quarter with our strength issues. Hopefully, another year of weightlifting and we can make some noise."
Liam Beningo added eight points for the Snowbirds, followed by Nowicki with five.
"Our offense was a little off tonight, for sure," Blust said. "They had pressure on the ball and did a nice job.
"But we finished up in the fourth quarter good."
Claeys scored only two points in the final eight minutes.
"Josh Nowicki did a really good job playing in the middle of our 2-3 zone in the second half," Blust said. "He was playing on Claeys' hips, and Claeys really didn't get many opportunities in the second half like he did in the first (with seven points).
"Pointing out an obvious factor: Age was a big part of this. We've been there with that learning curve. Luckily for us this time, we're a year older than Troy's team this time."
Tyler Madej finished with three points for J-L, and Nick Mays and Caesen Campbell each finished with two.
"Of course, with them running a 2-3, and you're not hitting outside shots, they can take away the paint all day," Huff said. I think we weren't quite patient enough with the ball and weren't in the right position where we could dribble-drive and take some better shots."
The four-year drought of losing to J-L was on a lot of the Snowbirds' minds when they were on the floor.
For perspective, the last time St. Mary beat J-L, a 45-44 nail biter in 2013, Hunter was only in the fifth grade.
"That tells you where we've been and the road we've had to take," Blust said. "It's been uphill. It's been a hell of a climb, and we're still climbing. We're at a point in our season where we can continue to develop, learn and put up W's in the win column."
Snapping the six-game losing streak was a great complement to St. Mary's win over J-L during football season which also snapped a losing streak to the Cardinals dating back to 2009.
"It's awesome," Long said. "This all carries over from football with us putting our foot down and saying, 'They're not going to push around anymore.' We can beat them in no matter what sport it is.
"So it's nice."
Huff tipped his hat to the Snowbirds as well.
"It's what rivalries are all about," he said. "Everybody likes them, and it'll make things a little more spicier for next time when we go over to their place. In years to come, we'll be strong again."
St. Mary returns to the court Wednesday at Mancelona, while J-L hosts Mio the same night.
Cardinals lose to Bucks with Snowbirds up next
The young Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team is improving.
The Cardinals hung with host Roscommon for most of the first half before the Bucks ran away with a 74-50 win Wednesday.
Tyson Claeys finished with a double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds), Tanner Shimel added 11 points and Tyler Madej had eight.
Kyle May, a junior guard, pitched in only two points and four assists but contributed well beyond the stat sheet.
"He doesn't score a lot for us, but he gives us a lot on the floor and handles the ball and is pretty much the floor general," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "He doesn't get the notoriety because he doesn't shoot as much as the other guys, and he's only 5-foot-5 out there."
J-L trailed 23-17 and 43-26 after each of the first and second quarters.
Also for J-L, Caesen Campbell and Nick Mays each scored two points.
The Cardinals (1-7, 1-5) host rival St. Mary for a Ski Valley game Friday, Jan. 27. They've beaten the Snowbirds seven straight times.
Warriors erase Madej's career night with comeback win over Cardinals
Forest Area's hot-shooting night from downtown helped the Warriors earn a late comeback win over Johannesburg-Lewiston on Monday.
The Warriors made 12 3-pointers, including five in the fourth quarter, to beat the visiting Cardinals 76-68 in boys basketball action.
Tyson Claeys led J-L with a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds), while Tyler Madej turned out a career night with 20 points.
"We led the whole game except during the last four minutes of the fourth," said J-L coach Troy Huff, whose team was up 31-26 at halftime. "But I thought our boys played really well. All the 3s they made against us in the fourth were contested ones, too."
The Cardinals (1-6, 1-5 SVC), who carried a 17-15 advantage after the first quarter, found themselves in a four-point deficit in the fourth.
They couldn't recover from it, despite their offense taking care of the ball and finding a nice mix of inside and outside shots.
Madej finished with seven assists, seven steals and four made 3s.
"Tyler took care of the ball and shot really, really well," Huff said. "He made some good decisions with the ball, and I can't say enough about that young man."
Caesen Campbell scored a career-high 10 points, while Tanner Shimel had eight, including making two 3s in the fourth quarter.
Nick Mays added five points, followed by Kyle May with three.
"That's huge whenever contributes in the game," Huff said. "I can honestly say we actually took care of the ball in this game.
"When you don't take care of the ball, you don't get shot opportunities. We're a good, disciplined team, and we can get the good shots if we take care of the ball.
"We fed it to Tyson in the low post and with Tyler hitting the outside shots, they couldn't double down on Tyson, and they had to play us honest."
The Cardinals return to the court when they host rival St. Mary for a Ski Valley game Friday, Jan. 27.
28 turnovers cost J-L a win at Onaway
Turnovers cost the sophomore-laden Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team a comeback win in Ski Valley play Thursday.
Tyson Claeys and Tanner Shimel scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, but J-L committed 28 turnovers in a 65-49 loss to host Onaway.
J-L (1-4, 1-3 SVC) trailed only 39-35 after the third quarter, but turnovers in the final three minutes halted its comeback chances.
"We're too young with too many turnovers," coach Troy Huff said. "We didn't take care of the ball and had too many turnovers. A lot of them were unforced turnovers. We just got to take care of the ball."
Onaway led J-L 8-5 and 23-18 after each the first and second quarters.
Claeys scored 10 points in the first half, while Shimel tallied a bulk of his points during J-L's 21-point third quarter.
Sophomore Tyler Madej pitched in 10 points, followed by Caesen Campbell with four and Kyle May and Joe Bush with two apiece.
"I know we're a young team, but we got to find some way to get through that turnover struggles," Huff said.
22 turnovers, Meriwether's 34 points doom young Cardinals in loss to Eagles
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball showed spurts of what it used to be Thursday.
But 22 turnovers from a team that starts three sophomores just won't cut it against a fundamentally-sound program like Bellaire, especially with longtime coach Stan Sexton on the bench and future college star Gabe Meriwether going off for 34 points.
The Cardinals (1-3, 1-2 SVC) settled for a 57-43 loss to the visiting Eagles, playing in only their fourth game in six weeks this season.
"I just told them after that game that we're young – with young legs – and that results in turnovers, and we don't the depth on our bench (to combat that)," said J-L coach Troy Huff, whose team graduated four starters a year ago. "They (Bellaire) have a revolving door on their bench, but we're young. I was proud of them."
The Eagles didn't put together any too dramatic runs, aside from the occasional 8-2 spree, but what they did do was play efficiently.
Meriwether used his speed to get to the hoop to either make a high-percentage basket, draw a foul or kickoff to a wide-open teammate on the backside.
Other times, Meriwether let a shot rip from well beyond the 3-point line, finishing with five made baskets from downtown.
Bellaire exploited J-L's turnovers in the first half to carry a 31-16 lead into halftime.
"(Players like Meriwether) are difficult to defend at any level, especially in high school," Huff said. "He's super quick. You go out to defend him, and he goes around you. He's got one step, and you hope you have good help defense and hope the defense sags in and slides over and stops him before he gets to the rim.
"Like I told the boys, he plays year-round AAU and summer ball and you know he's a hard-working player, and you have to hand it to him."
Things looked up for the Cardinals in the second half.
They limited their turnovers and played soundly in the final four minutes.
Bellaire grabbed a 55-33 lead after a basket down low from Curtis Corbin, who cashed in on a Meriwether pass, but J-L ended the game on a 12-2 run that saw the Cardinals score twice on drives to the hoop and a few times in transition.
Tyson Claeys, who had a team-high 19 points, scored down low off a back cut and then converted the and-one foul shot. Then he scored on a take to the hoop and another and-one to trim J-L's deficit to 16 with 38 seconds left.
Tanner Shimel ended the game with two free throws and a transition bucket off a pass from Kyle May to cut his team's deficit to 12.
Shimel finished with 13 points, while May added four, Nick Mays scored three and Joe Bush had two on free throws. Tyler Madej, who knocked down a clutch 3-pointer on a swing pass in the fourth quarter, ended with four points.
"I thought we took care of the ball better in the second half which resulted in fewer turnovers," Huff said. "I thought we did a lot of things a lot better in the second half than we did in the first.
"We moved the ball and got better looks. Tanner couldn't finish around the rim at times – having younger legs – because he's not as strong as Meriwether or some of those other bigger kids, but I thought they played pretty well."
The Cardinals return to action when they visit Inland Lakes for another conference game Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Young mistakes cost rebuilding Cardinals in loss to Hornets
The Pellston boys basketball team has been in the basement of the Ski Valley for years, despite the effort coach Larry Cassidy has put into rebuilding the program.
That effort has finally paid off this season.
The Hornets (4-0) have started undefeated, have a deep bench and roll out a starting five that will likely give Bellaire, Inland Lakes and Onaway fits in the conference race.
They're also a team the young Johannesburg-Lewiston squad will look up to for inspiration.
Pellston limited J-L to only two points during a 14-minute stretch of the second and third quarters, and then beat the visiting Cardinals 58-29 on Tuesday.
Young, inexperienced errors plagued the Cardinals (1-2, 1-1 SVC) which are a group trying to replace three starters and rebuild their program as well.
"They're deep on their bench, and everyone scored on their team," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "Hats off to them. They've been on the bottom of the totem pole (in the Ski Valley) for quite some time, and those kids stuck with him (Cassidy).
"I told our kids that we'll be there with them next year."
The Cardinals, who start three sophomores, received 13 points from Tanner Shimel, while Tyson Claeys added 11 and Tyler Madej had three.
Caesen Campbell and Kyle May each chipped in one point.
J-L has seven first-year varsity players on its roster.
"We had a lot of unforced errors and played like a young team," Huff said. "Nobody was getting pressure on the ball, and we were traveling a lot.
"We're young, and we can't make those type of mistakes. Hopefully, we can build off those and get better."
The Cardinals hung with Pellston in the first quarter, entering the second with only a 15-11 deficit, but the Hornets poured it on to finish the half.
They led 28-13 at halftime and 44-21 after the third quarter, limiting J-L to one basket from the middle of the second until 2:29 left in the third.
"After watching this game, it wasn't us at all," Huff said. "It wasn't the team I know. We need to come out and play our basketball next time. We were impatient with too many unforced errors. We were traveling.
"They're (Pellston) a better basketball team, but I don't know if Pellston was in our heads or what? It's part of coming of age. But they're a darn nice team."
Josh Rybinski and Will Friend each led Pellston with 13 points.
"They're a nice team, a real nice team," Huff said. "They should have some pretty good success in districts."
The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team wasn't going to use it's time away from the game as an excuse for its first-quarter letdown Monday.
That's why the Cardinals regrouped in the second, put together a comeback and went on to beat visiting Mancelona 58-39 in a Ski Valley game.
The win was the first of the season for J-L (1-1, 1-0 SVC) which hasn't played in the past 14 days because of snow days.
It's now off for the holiday break.
"It's been 14 days since we last played, and now we're done," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "Tomorrow I gave it to them off. It's difficult.
"When you're only playing two games (before the holiday break), it's hard to keep the kids interested and keep them pushing on and staying hungry for the game. A lot of people already have four or five games or will after this week is over."
Tyson Claeys scored 20 points for the Cardinals, who had a 7-0 led but allowed Mancelona to storm back and take a 15-9 advantage into the second quarter.
Huff regrouped his squad during the intermission and told the Cardinals to slow down their play offensively and ratchet up their defense.
J-L did just that and carried a 28-23 lead into halftime and never looked back.
The Cardinals finished with 14 steals as a team, relying on their ball stoppers to manufacture some of their offense in the final three periods.
"In the first quarter, we got impatient with the ball," Huff said. "We quit moving it. We quit taking the good looks, and they (Mancelona) went up on us.
"In the second quarter, we were just patient and making the extra pass and getting the good look and knocking it down. We were trapping them as well and mainly being patient with the ball and not making just one pass or taking one shot."
Tanner Shimel finished with 13 points and three steals for J-L which led Mancelona 41-31 after the third quarter.
Kyle May added 10 points and three steals, while Caesen Campbell and Tyler Madej each pitched in six points, Joe Bush had two and Nick Mays scored one.
The Cardinals finished 10 of 14 from the foul line.
J-L is now off until it visits Pellston for a conference game Tuesday, Jan. 3.
Entering January with only two games will be tough for the Cardinals, so Huff said he will strategically plan some scrimmages and tougher practices during the break.
That includes bringing back former all-conference players Chad Garton, Logan Huff, Brandon Huff, Coalton Huff and Nate Fox to scrimmage the Cardinals.
"We're not happy with that situation, having only two games before Christmas break," Coach Huff said. "We're going to do some scrimmaging and keep them playing.
"Fortunately, I got a good group from last year that can give me a hand and help individual players out as well which makes it fun for those kids still playing."
Shimel's 17 points not enough as Cardinals stumble to Ramblers in opener
Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Troy Huff knew his boys basketball team would take its lumps this season because it's starting three sophomores.
The Cardinals' first lump came Tuesday at Boyne City.
Tanner Shimel scored 17 points, but J-L dropped its season opener to the host Ramblers 73-42 in non-conference action.
Boyne City used its pressure defense to force the Cardinals into making turnovers.
"We knew we'd have games like this and come across games where we'd play teams who are bigger, stronger and more athletic than us," said Huff, whose team had 25 turnovers in the first half. "Boyne City was one of those teams and were junior and senior strong.
"They pressed us, and we had some silly turnovers and didn't box out well either."
Shimel provided one bright spot for the Cardinals, who trailed Boyne City 22-5 and 44-14 after the first and second quarters, respectively.
The sophomore made three 3-pointers and was 4 of 4 from the foul line.
"Tanner played really, really well," Huff said. "He was using our penetration and getting kick backs with our ball movement.
"He played extremely well and took care of the ball. He was strong with the ball, and he made good decisions with it."
Tyson Claeys and Tyler Madej, J-L's other two starting sophomores, entered halftime in foul trouble, and that hurt the Cardinals in the second half.
It also impacted Claeys mentally, who finished with 15 points despite going 4 of 16 while shooting free throws.
"Tyson played well, but he struggled from the line," Huff said. "He usually hits around 80 percent of his free throws. A lot of those tonight were open-ended one-and-ones.
"It wouldn't have changed the game a lot had he made them, but there were 12 open-ended free throws he missed in the first half."
Madej finished with five points while Kyle May added three and Nick Mays and Caesen Campbell each had one.
The Cardinals (0-1) are off until they open conference play by hosting Mancelona for a Ski Valley game Thursday, Dec. 15th.
Experience as sophomore helping May lead Cardinals into new season
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
A handful of injuries forced the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team to call up Kyle May from the JV before it played Bellaire last season.
The Cardinals, 18-3 a year ago, kept May on the varsity after their players got healthy again, and he contributed in their final six games, even giving their offense a spark during their Class C pre-district loss to Traverse City St. Francis.
May's varsity experience as a sophomore will pay off for J-L this season.
The Cardinals return only three players, including two sophomores in Tyson Claeys and Tanner Shimel, and only a few of the 11 players on the team got experience with the team in summer camp.
"It was very critical playing on varsity last year," said May, who will play guard. "I learned how to play a very fast-paced game after going from JV to varsity.
"With all the seniors last year in Brandon Huff, Logan Huff and Nate Fox, they were very physical and fast, so I've learned to be physical and fast and to lead my team down the court."
May, now a junior, has the third most experience on the team, which has only a pair of seniors in Max Roberts and Tyre Curtis, who is a recent transfer.
Joining him in the rotation will be Claeys and Shimel as well as another sophomore, Tyler Madej, who proved to be one of J-L's best scorers during camp.
Claeys started on the varsity as a freshman last season, while Shimel was also brought up from the JV, and he played almost the whole the year on varsity.
Newcomers Joe Bush, Nick Mays, Caesen Campbell, Leland Stephens and Tyler Helzer round out the roster as the team's juniors.
"We're an all-around team," May said. "We have Tyson and Tyler down low, and they're strong and physical. We have Nick Mays and Tanner as guards with me. We're fast, and we handle the ball.
"And we have a decent bench. When we need subs, they can go in and provide for us on offense and give our starters a good rest. We can continue to get a big lead (with them in there), and we all play good defense."
May said it feels strange going from one of the most inexperienced players on the team a year ago to being one of the most experienced this season.
But his leadership will be needed, especially with three sophomores starting.
"It's pretty weird," he said. "Since I'm the most experienced but kind of smaller, I'll call the plays and get everyone in order. I have to be a team leader and tell people what do and somehow tell people to go out and get that W."
Of course, May knows how valuable playing time will be for J-L's younger starters.
That's what helped him identify the things he needed to work on over the summer, which ended up being his dribbling and passing.
"(In scrimmages) this summer, I had to bring the ball down the court late in games against the press and make passes down in the post to Tyson and Tyler, so I knew I had to work on that and probably my shooting," he said.
The Cardinals lost a pair of 1,000-point scorers in Logan Huff and Brandon Huff, a great re-bounder and fast-break leader in Fox and a talented bench from a year ago.
It'll be tough for them to replicate 18 wins this season as well, but they do stand a chance to make a longer run in the postseason.
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