Johannesburg - Lewiston Varsity & JV Boys Basketball

 

Home of the Cardinals!


Junior Varsity & Varsity Basketball 2018-19
Schedule

Date
Day
Time
Home/Away
Opponent
J.V. Results
Varsity Results
Nov. 27
Tue
5:30 PM
H
W 45-32
L 59-56
Nov. 29
Thu
6:00 PM
A
DNP
W 69-29
Dec. 3
Mon
5:30 PM
A
L 74-46
L 77-68 OT
Dec. 7
Fri
5:30 PM
H
W 46-37
W 63-62
Dec. 10
Mon
5:30 PM
H
W 54-36
W 82-60
Dec. 12
Wed
5:30 PM
A
W 53-34
L 67-62
Dec. 14
Fri
5:30 PM
H

VS. CENTRAL LAKE

W 53-16
W 50-40
Dec. 19
Wed
5:30 PM
A
W 55-37
W 71-48
Dec. 21
Fri
5:30 PM
H
W 55-18
W 59-46
Jan. 9
Wed
5:30 PM
A
W 55-15
L 40-39
Jan. 11
Fri
5:30 PM
A
W 65-23
W 81-51
Jan. 18
Fri
5:30 PM
H
W 43-33
W 66-42
Jan. 24
Thu
5:30 PM
A
W 64-45
L 67-64
Jan. 29
Tue
5:30 PM
H
W 52-41
W 81-65
Feb. 5
Tue
5:30 PM
H
W 50-45
W 72-44
Feb. 9
Sat
11:00 AM
A
W 56-15
W 41-39
Feb. 14
Thu
5:30 PM
H

VS. ONAWAY

W 57-16
W 83-59
Feb. 19
Tue
5:30 PM
A

AT GAYLORD ST. MARY'S

Feb. 20
Wed
4:30 PM
H
VS. INLAND LAKES - PARENTS NIGHT
   
Feb. 21
Thu
5:30 PM
A
AT CENTRAL LAKE
*Make-up from 1/31/19
   
Feb. 25
Mon
TBA
TBA
DISTRICTS
Feb. 27
Wed
TBA
TBA
DISTRICTS
Mar. 1
Fri
TBA
TBA
DISTRICT FINALS


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Cards defeat Bellaire

Cardinals finally get in the gym, edge Bellaire on the road
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

BELLAIRE — Obviously, the weather has been a problem.

The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team didn’t even get to practice last week because of snow days.

So the Cardinals looked a bit rusty Saturday at Bellaire but did enough to pull out a 41-39 victory during the makeup game.

Tyson Claeys led J-L with 17 points and eight rebounds.

“We looked like a team that hasn’t played or practiced in eight days,” said coach Troy Huff, whose team is 11-5 overall and 9-3 in the Ski Valley. “We at least got one game in Tuesday, but the snow days are killing us. Especially without practicing.”

J-L and Bellaire played to a 10-10 tie in the first, but the Cardinals separated in the next period, carrying a 20-12 lead into halftime. They led by as many as 14 points, despite missing starter Tyler Madej, who was attending a college class at that time.

“Their post play got them back into in the fourth, and they were doubling down on Tyson,” Huff said.” They also were preventing Carlos Gascho from driving through the lane. They started out in a 3-2 zone and then switched to a 2-3.”

Sheldon Huff pitched in nine points, six rebounds and five assists, while Tanner Shimel had nine points, two steals and two assists. Joey Chrencik, Gavin Weaver and Gascho each scored two points.

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Cardinals down Forest Area

Marlatt impresses in 2nd game with Cardinals
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

With Sheldon Huff limited by a recent ankle injury, Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball coach Troy Huff needed to add depth to his bench, specifically as an insurance policy.

So he moved up Preston Marlatt from the JV. Marlatt played only a few minutes in his debut, but he got plenty of time on the court in Tuesday's 72-44 win over Forest Area in Ski Valley action.

The freshman chipped in seven points and got valuable playing time at the varsity level. That'll pay dividends, Coach Huff said.

"He's composed on the floor, and I figured with Sheldon having a rolled ankle that we needed another guard," said Coach Huff, whose team is 10-5 and 8-3 in the league. "Preston was very smart, and he's got a lot of basketball under his belt already. He does a lot of things right.

"I figured I could start working him in this year so he can adjust to this speed at a young age. It'll help him be more successful later down the road."

Tanner Shimel paced the Cardinals with 14, while Carlos Gascho scored 13, Tyson Claeys added 11 and Joey Chrencik had eight. Also scoring were Matthew Davidson and Tyler Madej with six points and Sheldon Huff with five.

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Cardinals control rebounds, upset No. 2 Pellston
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG – Tyson Claeys says the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team is fired up right now.

Which is saying something, considering where the Cardinals were at last week.

The defending Ski Valley champions had an ugly letdown and close-call loss at Mancelona. What’s more, starter Sheldon Huff suffered an ankle injury that will likely limit his minutes going forward.

So things weren’t looking so great when the No. 2 team in Division 4, Pellston, came to town Tuesday. The Hornets had beaten J-L by five points earlier in the year.

But none of that really mattered once the opening tip took place. The Cardinals gave up a 3-pointer here and there, but they dominated Pellston in every phase of the game, even scoring 23 points off offensive rebounds alone. Aside from a brief comeback attempt in the third quarter, when Pellston went on a 14-3 run to trim its deficit, J-L looked like a team poised to make noise in the upcoming district playoffs.

When Claeys came up with a thunderous block – batting down Tanner Byard’s jumper attempt – that lead to a Tanner Shimel layup in transition in the third quarter, the game was basically sewed up. The Cardinals walked away with an 81-65 victory over the red-hot Hornets.

J-L’s offensive rebounding efforts were key, but so too were its patient offense and physical defense.

“I thought we played our game plan,” said coach Troy Huff, whose Cardinals are 9-5 overall and 7-3 in the SVC. “We were always on the help, we were always on the inside shoulder playing defense – not on the outside. We were straight-up guarding them in the face. I thought that was pivotal for us tonight, for sure.”

“We always knew where our help was coming from, and I thought the boys played extremely well.”

In the fourth, the Cardinals pulled down an offensive rebound that ended in a Shimel basket, which extended J-L’s lead to 16 points. A 16-4 run also helped the Cardinals during the final eight minutes.

Back-to-back baskets from Claeys allowed J-L to close an early 7-4 deficit, and the Cardinals never looked back, leading for the rest of the game.

“It’s big when we’re rebounding like that,” said Claeys, who scored 23 points. “We were all over the boards and killing them. They weren’t boxing us like they did the first time, and they weren’t sucking down into the paint, which made it easier for us. Our guards were flying in and grabbing good boards.

“It definitely worked out for us.”

Shimel added 19 points, while Sheldon Huff came off the bench and scored 15, despite battling his injury. Gavin Weaver had one of his best nights on varsity, finishing with 10 points and playing great defense on Pellston’s star player, Blake Cassidy, who fought for all 24 of his points.

Also scoring for the Cardinals were Carlos Gascho with six, Tyler Madej with four and Joey Chrencik and Preston Marlatt with two apiece.

Byard scored a game-high 26 points for the Hornets.

“Yeah, we gave up 50 points to those two, but we locked up everybody else,” Claeys said. “We wanted to make everybody else beat us.”

Coach Huff, too, was OK with giving up 50 points to Pellston’s stars.

“Absolutely. As long as we’re taking good shots on our end, (that’s OK),” he said. “I thought we were taking good, wide-open looks. We were making the extra passes and catching the ball, looking for the open player. Our shooting percentage was way higher."

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CARDINAL BASKETBALL

Ironmen outlast Cardinals in Ski Valley matchup
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

Tyson Claeys scored a bucket down low to knot the score at 55 early in the fourth quarter.

The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team just couldn't hold on down the stretch Thursday at Mancelona. The Ironmen edged the Cardinals 67-64, despite Claeys finishing with 21 points.

J-L attempted two 3-pointers to tie the score in the finals seconds – one each from Gavin Weaver and Tanner Shimel – but neither fell.

"It seemed liked Mancelona was hitting everything they shot," coach Troy Huff said. "We just gave up too many second-chance shots tonight."

The Cardinals (8-5, 6-3 SVC) host No. 2 Pellston for an important Ski Valley game Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Sheldon Huff (ankle) scored 16 points but left with an injury. Carlos Gascho added 12 points, Shimel scored 10 and Tyler Madej pitched in five.

Mancelona carried a three- to six-point lead for most of the game, relying on 20 points apiece from Jayden Alfred and Matt Boyer.

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Congratulations Tyson Claeys 1000 Points!

Claeys reaches 1,000 points, Cardinals down rival Snowbirds

By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball coach Troy Huff gave his team a reminder at halftime.

On Friday night, the Cardinals led by as many as 11 points in the first half against rival St. Mary. But Drew Koenig buried a pair of 3-pointers to make it a 27-24 game entering halftime.

"We talked about finishing strong at halftime," Huff said. "We didn't finish strong against Inland Lakes, and we let them come back and beat us up there.

"I told them we can't let our guard down now. We have to go out there and play a full 32 minutes."

And that's what the Cardinals did. They ratcheted up their defense, starting running in transition again and built up their lead to 26 points by late in the fourth quarter.

Tyson Claeys scored 18 points, reaching the 1,000 career points milestone, and J-L (8-4, 6-2 SVC) downed the Snowbirds 66-42 in Ski Valley play, keeping pace with first-place Pellston, which is ranked No. 2 in Division 4.

"In the first half, offensively, we quit working the ball down to Tyson," Huff said. "Defensively, we let their pick and roll hurt us too much with Brady Hunter (16 points). We weren't switching correctly. Then Sheldon (Huff) was playing help-side defense inside, which left Koenig wide open. You just can't leave a shooter like him open.

"So we fixed that in the second half and got back to being more patient, looking for those quality looks."

Sloppy offensive play by the Snowbirds allowed the Cardinals to go on a 12-0 run to open the third, which was capped off by Claeys scoring down low in the post. St. Mary needed a jumper from Conrad Korte to halt the scoring spree with 1:49 left in the period.

With 2:30 left in the game, Coach Huff subbed out his Big 3 – starters Tanner Shimel, Tyler Madej and Claeys – for good. They had worked hard enough.

"In the second quarter, we got away from good ball movement," Claeys said. "We needed to play more like we did in the first quarter, but for some reason, we weren't moving the ball well enough. We got back to it, and we started getting the ball down low again."

Madej helped with 13 points, Shimel and Carlos Gascho scored 12 apiece, Gavin Weaver added five, including a key 3 in the first half, Sheldon Huff chipped in four and Joey Chrencik had two.

Claeys was just too big inside," said St. Mary coach Dale Jacob, whose Snowbirds fell to 5-5 overall and 5-3 in the SVC. "We played them good in the second quarter, even cutting it to three. But hats off to Joburg. They did what they needed to do to beat us tonight.

"We came in knowing we had to guard the Madej kid. In my opinion, he's really underrated in this league. But they ended up being too big for us inside. And they defended us better, too."

Koenig finished with eight points, followed by Alex Pudvan with seven, Joseph Moeggenberg with four, Colton Inglis with three and Korte and Alex Powers each with two.

"At some point, you got to start making shots," Jacob added. "We just didn't do that in the second half.

"We have to commit to getting better, and I've got to do a better job of coaching these kids up."

In the JV game, J-L beat St. Mary, 43-33. Dominic Keister led the Snowbirds with 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Brody Jeffers added 10 points.

Claeys reaches 1,000 career points

• Coach Huff has had three 1,000-point scorers the past three seasons, and none of them were basketball-first guys. Logan Huff (2016) is playing baseball at Alma College and Brandon Huff (2016) was J-L's star quarterback. Claeys reached that milestone Friday night, just one month after verbally committing to play football at Michigan Tech.

"That just shows what kind of coaches we have here," Claeys said. "The other coaches have done a good job leading us, from football to basketball to baseball.

"I couldn't have done this without all of them, and I couldn't have done it without the great teammates I've had here. From Brandon and Logan and Orie (Kierczynski) my freshman year to Tyler, Tanner, Carlos, Sheldon and all those guys this year."

Claeys sank a free throw in the second quarter to reach the milestone. Neither Coach Huff or J-L's athletic department alerted the senior that he was close to cracking 1,000 points. So the banner presentation mid-game was a surprise to him.

But Coach Huff wasn't too surprised.

"I'm not surprised at all," Coach Huff said. "His work ethic in the gym is tremendous. He works his butt off, and he has worked his butt off since he started as a freshman and began playing a key role for us then.

"Back then, he was playing guard for us, and I think that helped him, learning that position. It's allowed him to become the type of player he is now. It's really helped him, especially with how athletic he is."

Congratulations!

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Cardinals get much-needed win at Onaway
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team got the bounce back it needed Friday night.

Behind Carlos Gascho's 17 points, the Cardinals topped host Onaway 81-51 in Ski Valley play. Tyson Claeys also scored 16 points and grabbed 26 rebounds.

They entered the game following a close-call loss to Inland Lakes.

"We were more patient on offense and ran in transition," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We came out with more of a purpose after Wednesday night's game, and the kids really figured a few things out."

Sheldon Huff added 13 points and eight assists, followed by Tanner Shimel and Joey Chrencik with 10 points apiece, Matthew Davidson with nine and Tyler Madej with six.

"We came with some fire tonight," Coach Huff said. "It was a lot of run and gun."

The Cardinals (7-4, 5-2 SVC) host rival St. Mary for a conference game Friday, Jan. 18.

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GHTPHOTO

Cardinals suffer loss to Bulldogs after weird finish to game
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

That's not the way you want to come back from winter break.

The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team led for most of the game, but it had a handful of snafus that kept it from pulling out a win in Ski Valley play Wednesday at Inland Lakes.

Tanner Shimel fouled a Bulldog with 3.4 seconds, allowing Inland Lakes to take the lead 40-39, which wound up the final score.

Tyson Claeys had a shot to win the game for the Cardinals on the ensuing possession, as Inland Lakes fouled the senior immediately after making the winning free throws. Claeys missed both foul shots in the double bonus.

Earlier in the game, however, the game got a little weird, J-L coach Troy Huff said. Tyler Madej left the game with five fouls late in the fourth quarter. The only problem was he had only four. A scorebook error kept him from staying on the floor.

Then, with 1:08 left, the scoreboard operator forgot to start the game clock and the referees never stopped play to run off the 20 or so seconds the ball was actually in play. Huff was certain the Cardinals would have hung on to their lead had that time been run off the clock.

"It was really tough, actually," said Huff, whose Cardinals dropped to 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the SVC. "But, honestly, we're a better team than that. We were up nine at one point. We can't let other teams hang around like that."

Claeys scored 15 points for the Cardinals, who shot just 10 of 19 from the foul line and 30 percent from the floor. Shimel added seven points, Sheldon Huff had six, Madej finished with five and Carlos Gascho pitched in four.

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J-L Tyson Claeys GHT Photo

Cardinals beat Bellaire behind offense from Claeys, Gascho
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

Tyson Claeys and Carlos Gascho each scored 16 points, and the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team topped visiting Bellaire 59-46 in Ski Valley play Friday.

"We just were patient and getting good looks and not forcing shots," coach Troy Huff said. "We were getting good looks by making that extra pass."

The Cardinals, who led 31-12 at halftime, shot 11 of 14 from the foul line. They received nine points, five assists and three steals from Tanner Shimel, while Claeys pulled down eight rebounds.

Sheldon Huff pitched in eight points, followed by Tyler Madej with six and Gavin Weaver and Joey Chrencik with two apiece.

Bellaire made five 3-pointers in the second half during a comeback attempt.

J-L is 6-3 overall and is tied with Pellston atop the SVC standings at 4-1 in the conference.

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GHTPHOTOSBF

Davidson, Chrencik ignite Cardinals off the bench
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

Wednesday was all about getting the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team's bench some confidence.

The Cardinals (5-3, 3-1 SVC) blew past host Forest Area 71-48 in Ski Valley play, getting 18 points from Tyson Claeys, 13 from Tanner Shimel and 12 from Carlos Gascho – each a starter.

But Matthew Davidson and Joey Chrencik entered the game off the bench and each played meaningful minutes for the first time this winter. Davidson finished with a career-best eight points, Chrencik added six and even Gavin Weaver pitched in two.

"It was nice to get good minutes out of Matthew and Joey," coach Troy Huff said. "Matthew played with a lot of fire and heart, which I haven't seen that out him yet, which was nice to see. Joey was knocking down his little jumpers, too. With the length Joey has, getting him these minutes will pay us dividends for both the rest of the year and next year as well."

J-L's other two starters, Tyler Madej and Sheldon Huff, scored eight and four points, respectively.

The Cardinals led 41-12 at halftime.

"We moved the ball as well as we've moved it all year, especially in transition," Coach Huff said.

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GHTPHOTOCG

Pellston outlasts Cardinals in key early-season SVC matchup
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

PELLSTON — The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team is now one game back in the Ski Valley race.

The defending conference champions lost to host Pellston 67-62 on Wednesday. The Hornets outlasted the Cardinals in the final eight minutes to steal the win.

“Our offense just stalled at the wrong time,” coach Troy Huff said. “We resorted to fouling at the end, and they (Pellston) just hit their free throws. We had just too many turnovers tonight.”

Tanner Shimel, who finished with 20 points and was 4 of 9 from downtown, made a 3-pointer late in the third to give the Cardinals their first lead.

J-L’s lead got as big as four points in the fourth, with Tyler Madej scoring seven of his nine points in the period. But his team couldn’t make the front end of their free throws in the bonus to put away the game.

Pellston regained the lead with under three minutes left. Tanner Byard (34 points) was 6 of 6 from the foul line down the stretch, while Blake Cassidy (24 points) was 2 of 2, to help the Hornets, who improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

“Down the stretch, we’ve got to learn how to finish,” Huff said. “They were a disciplined teamed that could shoot the 3, so we’ve got to know who the shooter is and where the help on defense is going to come from.”

Carlos Gascho added 17 points for the Cardinals (3-3, 1-1 SVC), who host Central Lake for a league game Friday, Dec. 14. They’ll need to regroup quickly, as the Trojans upset them a year ago at home.

“Right now, we’ve just got to come out Friday and play our style,” Huff said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball because Central Lake has had our number the past couple of years.”

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Claeys, Huff notch double-doubles as J-L downs Ellsworth
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball played well Monday against Ellsworth.

Yet the Cardinals still haven't quite found their groove, coach Troy Huff said.

"We still haven't found that groove where all of us are stroking at the same time," said Huff, whose team beat the Lancers 82-60 in non-conference play. "Like with Tyler, I'm anxious to see how we can get Tyler Madej going. We've got to somehow get him going the same night as these other guys are playing good."

Tyson Claeys led the Cardinals with a double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds), while the senior was 11 of 14 shooting inside the paint. Sheldon Huff, who scored nine points in the opening quarter to give J-L a 21-15 lead, also recorded a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Carlos Gascho (13 points, seven assists and four steals) also played well for the Cardinals, who improved to 3-2 overall. Tanner Shimel added 10 points.

"We just ran in transition, used our dribble-drives and cut to the basket," Coach Huff said. "Tyson was quite the physical presence underneath, and we were up by 20 early in the third quarter. I'm pretty happy with how we shot the ball as a team. We shot really well."

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PHOTO BY BRANDON FOLSOM

Cardinals' Claeys sinks game-winning free throws vs. Mancelona
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team trailed Mancelona all game Friday.

That was, of course, the Cardinals raced up the floor with 11 seconds left, fed the ball to Tyson Claeys in the post and then Mancelona sent the senior power forward to the foul line. Claeys buried both free throws, helping J-L edge the visiting Ironmen 63-62 in Ski Valley play.

Mancelona, which led by as many as 12 points, had six seconds left to drum up a game-winner but couldn't get off a good attempt.

"It was just one of those games where whatever they (Mancelona) put up, they made, and we just couldn't get many shots to fall," coach Troy Huff said. "We just didn't shoot well from the floor, nor could we shoot free throws well (16 of 33).

"So I'm pretty happy with how it all finished. We worked the ball around there at the end. They had two kids who fouled out, so I told our guys to be patient. We just weren't being as patient as we typically are on offense for most of the game."

Tanner Shimel, who scored 14 points, made a layup to trim J-L's deficit to just 62-61 late in the fourth.

Claeys finished with a team-high 15 points, followed by Carlos Gascho with 10, Sheldon Huff with nine and Tyler Madej with six.

Gavin Weaver put together his best varsity game yet, scoring nine points.

"I got really good minutes with Gavin tonight," Coach Huff said. "He played, really really well."

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GHTPHOTOS

Cards finish with only 4 on the floor in OT loss at Roscommon
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team finished with just four players on the court Monday at Roscommon.

Foul trouble marred the Cardinals, who lost to the Bucks 77-68 in overtime, despite Tanner Shimel scoring a career-best 31 points.

The Cardinals (1-2) held a two-point lead in the final minute of regulation. They wound up forcing a quick shot, and Roscommon took the ensuing rebound the distance to knot the score, 61-61.

J-L, which hosts Mancelona to open Ski Valley play Friday, Dec. 7, had one final chance to win the game before overtime, but Sheldon Huff (eight points) couldn't draw a foul, despite being shoved out of bounds.

Tyson Claeys added 19 points, while starter Tyler Madej sat most the game with foul trouble.

"We traded a couple of baskets in overtime, but we got into foul trouble early," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "I knew we were going to be going into it. We kept fouling them, Roscommon would make one of their two free throws (in the bonus), and that's just how it went."

Carlos Gascho chipped in five points, while Gavin Weaver scored three. J-L shot 52 percent inside the 3-point line.

"We played really, really good defense," Coach Huff added. "We played full-court defense and got some steals off it.

"It was a very physical game, but we played through it and played extremely well. I wish we could have gotten more calls to go our way, but that happens. We just needed to find a way to win, but it's hard when guys like Tyson finish 5 of 12 from the floor. He doesn't ever miss too many shots."

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Two sophomores

Gascho, Huff stepping up for Cardinals as only sophomores
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

OHANNESBURG — With the three seniors Johannesburg-Lewiston's boys basketball team returned this winter — Tanner Shimel, Tyson Claeys and Tyler Madej — the Cardinals knew they'd be able to compete every night.

But what will likely take them from a Ski Valley contender to a champion are their two sophomores, Sheldon Huff and Carlos Gascho. Coach Troy Huff platooned the duo as the sixth man last year, which yielded some success. But he knows he needs them to be key contributors as starters this season.

The two played great in their season-opening loss to Mio, but they took the next step in their win Thursday at Fairview. Sheldon Huff, alone, scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, putting together a career game.

"Being in the starting role, it's a faster pace," said Coach Huff, Sheldon's father. "I can't say enough about them. I did stress one thing with them, though. I said, 'Don't change your shots. Attack the basket like you've done 100 times and don't be afraid to shoot your shot.'"

The transition from bench player to starter hasn't been too bad for the boys.

Sheldon Huff started on the football team and was the defense's leading tackler. He helped the team win a Northern Michigan Football League-Legacy title and make it to Round 2 of the Division 8 playoffs.

Gascho won both Ski Valley and D4 regional titles in cross-country this past fall, even finishing in the top 10 of the D4 state championship in November.

So the spotlight isn't too bright for Huff and Gascho.

"The game wasn't as quick as I remembered it, but we'll keep working to get better," Sheldon Huff said. "Along as you get it done, that's all that matters. We want less turnovers and want to try to get everyone involved in the game.

"But none of us care about points. We just want to wins."

Now the two are looking to transition their varsity leadership in other sports to the basketball court.

"Sheldon is a good ballplayer, and he's a good athlete in general," Gascho said. "He's stepping up pretty well. We're both strong enough, and we're both mentally strong and physical. We've just got to step up to the plate and do what we need to do to fill in for (former players) Timmy LaPointe, Caesen Campbell and Kyle May."

Although Sheldon Huff spent most of his summer vacation playing for Gaylord Baseball Club, he did find time to play with the Cardinals during summer basketball tournaments and camps. Gascho spent the spring and summer playing AAU with his buddies from Mio and Fairview (he transferred to J-L from Fairview two years ago). So that has helped prepare them for this season as well.

Through two games, Sheldon Huff has become a great presence on the wing — hitting a late 3-pointer against Mio to keep the game close — but he's also able to drive to the hoop and get to the foul line. Gascho has handled some of the point guard duties as well as led the defense. He's capable of taking a steal the distance for an easy layup. Speed kills, after all.

They just need to keep that going for 18 more regular season games.

"Last year, we really worked with each other, so we all know what to do when we get the ball," Gascho added. "We just combined for at least 20 points or more (against Mio), and we're just working the ball around to get easy buckets. The team is working better now, and it's our second year together.

"Hopefully, we'll keep it going, getting more points and easy buckets."

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Huff's 22 points helps Cardinals down Eagles on the road
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

Sheldon Huff's career night was enough to combat a slow start for Johannesburg-Lewiston on Tuesday at Fairview.

The sophomore scored a personal-best 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the Cardinals beat the Eagles 69-29 in non-conference play. What's more, he used his dribble-drive to create scoring opportunities for his teammates, especially Tyler Madej (11 points, eight rebounds), Joey Chrencik (two points) and Matthew Davidson (two points).

Also playing well was Tyson Claeys, who shot 9 of 14 from the floor for 19 points and 12 rebounds.

"Sheldon got our offense going by dribble driving and dumping down to the post for easy buckets to get the other guys going," said coach Troy Huff, whose Cardinals (1-1) led only 17-10 after the first quarter. "He sees the floor well and didn't force the ball. He took what the defense was giving him.

"He got a lot of open jumpers and mid-range jumpers and also attacked the basket to get second-chance shots. He had six points alone on second-chance opportunities – rebounding it and putting it back up."

J-L ratcheted up its defense in the second and third quarters, holding the Eagles to only eight points during that stretch.

"We weren't moving the ball well in the first quarter," Coach Huff said. "We played down to their level a little bit. But then we started to run in transition a little bit better, pushing the ball. We played a little bit better defense, too. We were just too lackadaisical to start. Luckily, Sheldon had a really big night."

Tanner Shimel and Gavin Weaver each scored eight points apiece, while Carlos Gascho pitched in three.

The Cardinals hope Thursday's effort will give Sheldon Huff more confidence going forward.

"If he can't build on that, I don't know what the problem would be," said Coach Huff, Sheldon's father. "He was just feeling it tonight with his soft shot."

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GAYLORD HERALD PHOTO

Cardinals lose opener to hot-shooting Thunderbolts
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG – A year ago, River Waisanen buried nine 3-pointers to help Mio upset Johannesburg-Lewiston in a non-conference boys basketball game.

Waisanen and the Thunderbolts found that downtown spark again during Tuesday's season opener. Mio made seven 3s and staved off a late comeback from the host Cardinals to earn a 59-56 win.

All 12 of Waisanen's points came from four 3s. His last one gave Mio a 49-40 advantage with 5:23 remaining, and then Brendan DeFlorio scored in transition to make it an 11-point game, their team's largest lead.

"He's a hell of a 3-point shooter," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "He had the game of his life last year. It obviously boosted his confidence against us today.

"We were sagging down on him too far. I wanted us to deny him the ball and deny him the pass, initially. We gave him a step and was a step off him. So when we'd get mixed up on screens, that allowed him to get open."

Late in the fourth, J-L finally snapped a 12-2 run by Mio after Tyson Claeys (team-high 19 points) scored a fast-break bucket. What followed was a brief run from the Cardinals, who got a reverse layup from Carlos Gascho and a 3-pointer from Tanner Shimel to make it 53-51 with 1:16 left.

"That's just defense," said Gascho, who scored 14 points. "We had a couple of errors where we were switching, and we'd stay on the same guy and another would be wide up. We weren't moving our feet and stuff, and we'd foul.

"That (run) was just defense and getting good looks for back cuts and looking for easy buckets on the backside."

Drew Hess (17 points) made four foul shots in the bonus to secure the win for Mio, despite Sheldon Huff swishing a long 3 for J-L with only eight seconds remaining.

"They showed resiliency," Coach Huff said. "They didn't chop off their heads. They continued to fight and fought their way back into the game by taking good shots, not forcing things and playing good defense."

The Cardinals scored six-straight points to open the third, including Gascho driving for a layup. The attempt gave J-L its first and only lead, 36-34, with 3:37 remaining. Mio took a 43-40 advantage into the final eight minutes.

Gascho's mid-range jumper knotted the score at 9 in the first, while Tyler Madej buried a 3 to begin the second quarter and tie it at 16. However, the Thunderbolts carried a 33-27 lead into halftime, riding their hot shooting and steady defense past the Cardinals.

"We've just got to work on backside help, on-ball pressure and moving our feet," Sheldon Huff added. He and Shimel each finished with 10 points. "There's no quit in this team, for sure. If we're down by 11 with a minute left, we're still pushing until the end. There's no stop in this team."

Coach Huff was actually happy with how J-L played. He called it the perfect tune-up for the season, believing his team played great against a well-coached Ty McGregor program. McGregor played professionally in Denmark.

"I'm not disappointed," Coach Huff said. "This is just what I wanted, right here. ... We've got to clean up a few things. We've got to finish around the rim and box out. That first half killed us, and we probably spotted them at least 11 or 12 points by not doing the simple things."

The Cardinals, who were scheduled to visit Fairview on Thursday, Nov. 29, will also look to shore up its perimeter defense going forward. Fortunately, they won't have to face Waisanen again this season.

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Defending SVC champion Cardinals not looking too far ahead
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team removed one proverbial monkey off its back when it won its first Ski Valley title since 1981 last season.

So one would think the next monkey it’d attack would be finally winning a district title after coming so close the past four years under seventh-year coach Troy Huff. But that’s not how the Cardinals, 15-6 a year ago, are looking at things.

“Nope, we’re just looking to come out and win some games,” said senior Tyson Claeys, who was the Herald Times Player of the Year in 2017-18. “If we come out and win games, everything else will fall into place.”

“We definitely would like to win a district championship because we figure this is the team to do it. If we just work hard, we’ll have a season like last season where we got to the spot that everyone expected us to get to.”

Senior Tyler Madej echoed Claeys’ sentiments.

“At this point, (it’s) not really (our goal),” he said. “We’re just worried about coming out and winning and getting another conference championship. Then we’ll move on to districts.”

Fair enough.

You get to the call the shots when you’re the king of the conference. And with a Big 3 — seniors Tanner Shimel, Claeys and Madej — like the Cardinals have, they definitely have room to talk.

J-L lost two starters to graduation from last year’s title team in guard Kyle May and wing Caesen Campbell as well big man Timmy LaPointe off the bench.

But their losses shouldn’t be too tough to replace. Last year, Huff played then-freshmen Carlos Gascho and Sheldon Huff as the first two off the bench and got them considerable varsity minutes. They’ll step into starting roles as sophomores.

“We’ll be stronger this year,” Coach Huff said. “The freshmen from last year are sophomores, so they’re a little bit more of age. I expect a lot out of them. Plus we’ll get that junior class (the Big 3), which was my leading scorers last year, back as seniors.”

“There’s nothing like game-time experience. Carlos and Sheldon were my sixth and seventh guys off the bench, depending on which game it was. Between the two of them, they averaged 7-10 points per game, and, hopefully, they can get into the 12-14 points range this year.”

“I believe my starting five and the three on the bench is as deep as we possibly can be as far as shooters on the team. And I like that from a consistency standpoint.”

Those three coming off the bench will be juniors Matthew Davidson, Gavin Weaver and Joey Chrencik, each capable of playing both in the post and on the wing.

“I expect big things from them off the bench,” Coach Huff continued. “And they’re going to get a ton of playing time. I’m excited to see how each one will develop.”

“Matthew is very coachable, and he uses his body well. He’s bigger and stronger this year, and he has been in the weight room in the off-season, which will pay dividends in basketball.”

“Joey has now got a smooth shot, and he’s gotten a lot more physical. During camp over the summer, I saw a different side of him. He wasn’t letting those guys push him around. He got mad at them, which was nice to see. I expect him to come in and do good at rebounding, especially if Tyson gets into foul trouble.”

“Gavin got some time off the bench for us last year as a sophomore, but I definitely expect him to be more in the mix this year, especially with his height (6-foot-3).”

It’s unlikely another team in the Ski Valley will have three players to match up with Shimel, Madej and Claeys throughout a full 32-minute game. And they each know it, too.

Claeys and Shimel were Class C all-state players, each making the honorable mention team. Claeys led the Cardinals with 308 points and 170 rebounds, while Shimel scored 277 points and shot 50.2 percent from the floor. Both were first-team All-SVC players.

Madej, on the other hand, was just an All-SVC honorable mention, but with the way he’s improved his shooting this preseason, he will likely earn more accolades as a senior.

“I think we’re going to come out strong — just like we did last year,” Madej said. “We lost Caesen and Kyle, who were both great defensive players, but we also have Sheldon and Carlos stepping up now.”

Whether the Cardinals would like to admit it, their season won’t be judged on their ability to repeat as Ski Valley champions. It’ll all come down to what they do in the district tournament.

“I definitely don’t doubt there’s some pressure on us to get another championship and do well in districts and the playoffs as a whole,” Claeys said. “But I think we’re ready as a team, for sure.”

The Cardinals at a glance

Coach: Troy Huff, seventh year

2017-18 Record: 15-6 (14-2 SVC)

2017-18 Finish: Lost in the Class C district semifinal to Oscoda, 62-60; Claimed first conference championship since 1981

Key Losses: Kyle May, Caesen Campbell, Timmy LaPointe

Key Returners: Tyson Claeys, Tanner Shimel, Tyler Madej, Sheldon Huff, Carlos Gascho, Gavin Weaver

Newcomers: Joey Chrencik, Matthew Davidson

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Updated 2/15/19