LaPointe's return to Cardinals helping Claeys, others find scoring chances
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team was inexperienced and, at times, short last season.
The Cardinals could have used depth in the post. They could have used somebody like Timmy LaPointe, who sat out last winter and focused on preparing for track and field.
LaPointe has rejoined the program this season, and his presence was immediately felt in Monday's 55-41 loss to Boyne City.
"Timmy is a smart kid, No. 1, and he plays to his strong suits," said coach Troy Huff, referencing LaPointe's academic prowess. The senior was academic all-state in football. "He's a leaper, and he's a smart ballplayer.
"As long as he continues to play to his strengths, we'll get a lot of minutes out of him."
LaPointe, who is only 6-foot, scored only three points in the opener – all in the first quarter, helping J-L grab an 8-7 lead early – but he created mismatches in the paint. He also showed his ability to hustle down loose balls and out jump others for rebounds.
"I missed playing the games, and I love playing football with these guys because they're definitely my favorite," LaPointe said. "It was definitely nerve-wracking the first few minutes, but I came out and got that early bucket, and it definitely helped my confidence a lot. I was definitely nervous because I haven't played for awhile, and I didn't know how good I was going to be."
Both Huff and senior guard Kyle May feel LaPointe will be best used in the paint to take heat off forward Tyson Claeys, who is often double- and triple-teamed because of his height. Having LaPointe be both a scoring and rebounding threat down low should help Claeys score more points.
"He's just another big guy and another big guy we can feed into," said May of LaPointe. "Last year, we only had two big guys with Tyson and Tyler (Madej). ... He's just another guy on the floor we can give the ball to, and he can score.
"When they double up on Tyson, it frees up Timmy. And Timmy can score. When they double up on Timmy, we can dish to Tyson, so it's a dual-threat with two guys."
Added Huff: "He takes a lot of pressure off Tyson, so now teams have to worry about two different rebounder's."
LaPointe also said he wants to focus on making plays in the paint for the Cardinals, who could only help Claeys score two points in the fourth quarter vs. Boyne City. Claeys finished with 13 points.
"It's sort of always where I've played, too," LaPointe said. "I figured I'd be down there. I think that's where I can help, taking pressure off Tyson. That's going to help a little more because, eventually, in the fourth quarter, once we got it to Tyson, he had three guys on him.
"We got to try to take that pressure off him."
Cardinals encouraged by effort in loss to Class B Boyne City
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team knows it can compete for a Ski Valley title this winter.
Their confidence in following through on that goal just grew considerably after their 55-41 loss to Class B Boyne City in the season opener Monday.
At times, the Cardinals (0-1) clang to a lead – even carrying an 8-7 advantage into the second quarter – and other times they trimmed double-digit deficits into four- and five-point holes.
They did everything they could to hang with a school with a 429-student enrollment, which meant a deeper, more talented roster, and that effort made their coach proud afterward.
"The heart the kids put on the floor tonight was unparalleled," coach Troy Huff said. "They fought and didn't lay down and just played hard. The juniors and seniors, I knew they were going to be that type of players, and I'm proud of the young guys. They came in and stepped up and gave us some good minutes."
Boyne City ultimately distanced itself from J-L in the second quarter by scoring in the paint. Seven of its eight baskets came from close range as the Cardinals struggled with help-side defense and closing out on rebound attempts.
J-L fixed those problems at halftime, but Boyne City's shooters got hot in the third quarter and even buried three 3-pointers to grab a nine-point lead down the final stretch.
"A lot of that was boxing out and stepping over sooner," Huff said. "We weren't stepping over. We were letting their guys get deep into the paint and get easy shots. Tyson (Claeys) actually closed out a little quicker and shut that down, and the weak side guard dropped down on that side to help, too.
"We just need to keep working on the little things, polish ourselves up and the Ski Valley is up for grabs."
Claeys finished with 13 points, followed by Tanner Shimel with 12, Kyle May with 10 and Caesen Campbell and Timmy LaPointe with three apiece.
The Cardinals found some offensive success breaking Boyne City's full-court press and attacking the hoop.
If it wasn't for some rusty play in the first half, May said, the final outcome might have been much closer.
"We've improved, but we didn't start the season off very well because we were rusty," the senior guard said. "But we knew coming into this game that they were going to be tall and tough, so we had to run with them, and they were going to full-court press us.
"So in practice we were running up and down the court, getting our stamina up and we knew we just had to run with them. That was the key to beating them."
Added Huff: "We were being patient, getting good looks and attacking the basket. They run that half court defense and the full-court (defense) as well, but I told them once we break it, you got to attack. You can't just keep passing. You got to attack the basket and see what you can get for shots."
May said he and his teammates weren't discouraged by the loss because "it's not in conference, so this loss doesn't bother me whatsoever. This is just preparing us for the season. They're a good team, and there's no team like that in our conference, so we're going to be a contender."
Huff echoed those sentiments.
"We're going to keep working, and we're going to be a tough school to beat," he said.
Local boys basketball teams prepare to tip off 2017-18 season
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
Outlook: The Cardinals added four underclassmen to this year's squad and somehow still got older, which youth was their one problem last winter. At times they were just too young to compete with the experienced teams in the Ski Valley. With their top scorers – Tyson Claeys, Tanner Shimel and Tyler Madej – now juniors and Kyle May, their crafty guard, now a senior, that should take away a lot of the inexperience the Cardinals have struggled with and give them a chance to finish in the top three or four of the conference. The program also welcomed back Timmy LaPointe, who didn't play basketball last year but adds solid athleticism as the school's best tight end and hurdler.
2016-17 Record: 6-15 (5-11 SVC)
2016-17 Finish: Lost in the Class C district semifinal to Whittemore-Prescott, 60-33.
Key Returners: Tanner Shimel, Tyson Claeys, Kyle May.
Key Losses: Max Roberts, Tyre Curtis.
Key Additions: Timmy LaPointe, Gavin Weaver, Sheldon Huff.
No. - Name - Grade - Height
1 - Tyler Madej - 11th - 6-1
3 - Sheldon Huff - 9th - 5-8
4 - Carlos Gascho - 9th - 5-7
5 - Caesen Campbell - 12th - 6-1
11 - Tanner Shimel - 11th - 5-11
14 - Gavin Weaver - 10th - 6-3
22 - Kyle May - 12th - 5-8
23 - Joe Bush - 12th - 6-2
31 - Tyson Claeys - 11th - 6-4
32 - Timmy LaPointe - 12th - 6-0
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