Varsity & JV Boys Basketball


While J-L's upsetting end to the season, a 79-65 loss to Traverse City St. Francis in the Class C district opener March 7, might overshadow its 18-3 season and second-place finish in the Ski Valley, the Cardinals were still rewarded for their stellar play by the league.

Two weeks ago, the Ski Valley named J-L seniors Logan Huff and Brandon Huff to its all-conference team, both earning First Team nods, while senior Nathan Fox was Second Team.




J.V. Results
Varsity Results
Dec 08, 2015
6:00 PM
W 81-10
W 48-41
Dec 11, 2015
6:00 PM
W 50-40
W 64-42
Dec 15, 2015
6:00 PM
L 47-45
W 67-27
Dec 17, 2015
6:00 PM
W 57-10
W 91-45
Jan 05, 2016
6:00 PM
W 50-41
W 44-42
Jan 07, 2016
6:00 PM
W 42-36
W 73-51
Jan 19, 2016
6:00 PM
W 56-32
L 52-40
Jan 21, 2016
6:00 PM
W 61-39
W 71-59
Jan 27, 2016
6:00 PM
L 56-54
W 77-67
Jan 29, 2016
6:00 PM
W 42-35
W 74-33
Feb 01, 2016
6:00 PM
W 45-31
W 72-41
Feb 03, 2016
6:00 PM
W 74-50
Feb 05, 2016
6:00 PM
W 48-36
W 64-54
Feb 08, 2016
6:00 PM
W 58-55
W 57-33
Feb 12, 2016
6:00 PM
W 64-44
W 78-48
Feb 19, 2016
6:00 PM
L 57-47
Feb 24, 2016
6:00 PM
VS Pellston
W 54-18
W 74-49
Feb 26, 2016
6:00 PM
W 64-39
W 74-57
Mar 01, 2016
6:00 PM
W 61-24
W 66-62
Mar 03, 2016
6:00 PM
W 53-37
W 56-37
Mar 07, 2016
L 79-65

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Boys Basketball Camp notebook: Cardinals' May relishes past varsity experience
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

GAYLORD — A car accident kept McGwire Mathewson, a key player off the bench, from playing against Bellaire last winter.

To add depth to his boys basketball roster, Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Troy Huff moved up sophomore Kyle May from the junior varsity, hoping May's addition would fill some void despite the two playing two entirely different positions (forward versus point guard).

May played in the game, earning minutes early on, but the Cardinals still fell to the host Eagles — losing the Ski Valley title outright.

Nevertheless, May ultimately finished the season on the varsity, playing as a reserve guard in J-L's six final games which also included the Class C pre-district against Traverse City St. Francis.

The Cardinals graduated three starters from last winter's squad, which included Logan Huff, Brandon Huff and Nathan Fox, as well as a handful of bench players.

They return only two starters, sophomores Tanner Shimel and Tyson Claeys, and only Mathewson has experience off the bench.

That six-game stretch of games may turn out to be a godsend for May, who should be a starting guard for the Cardinals next winter.

His heady play was evident when J-L competed in Gaylord's 13-team basketball camp Monday through Wednesday in Jim Mongeau Gymnasium.

It was May directing the offense and finding teammates Tyler Madej and Claeys for open shots and opportunities to drive to the hoop.

"I think it feels great having a couple of games of varsity experience," May said. "I thought I had a great experience.

"When I look (back at playing on JV), the (opposing) JV teams weren't very good. When I went up to varsity, they were a lot faster, stronger and I knew I had to step up my game and play up to their level."

As much as May enjoys shooting and scoring, it's finding his teammates for scoring chances that he enjoys the most.

"I try not to be too selfish," he said. "I like being a team player and the assists, but I still like to shoot. I like points, but I think assists are better, especially with team play."

May, as well as Shimel, did well in Gaylord's camp. They hit players cutting to the basket with well-timed passes. They found Claeys open on the perimeter and down low. They passed to Madej off screens.

They didn't look like players who haven't played limited varsity minutes because of their youth.

"Them making great passes doesn't translate into a turnover and lay up at the other end," Coach Huff said. "We struggled with that at times, and we're starting to get those looks that we need — like taking care of the ball and getting easy lay ups.

"It's just about being confident and having good passes and taking care of the ball. I keep stressing that to them to make that extra pass. Our first couple of games yesterday (Monday), we weren't making the extra passes, and now we're doing that. As you can see, it translates to the scoreboard."

Coach Huff believes getting May experience on varsity last season — as well as Shimel and Claeys playing on the varsity — will ease J-L's rebuild season as it loses its Big 3 from a year ago.

"It was imperative for those boys and imperative for the team to get them that varsity experience," he said. "As you can see, they're calm on the floor; they're not rattled or easily rattled.

"They're still going to make those sophomore and junior mistakes, but as long as we can keep going off that (past varsity experience) from day to day, it's all I can ask of them."

As far as season expectations, May said he wouldn't be surprised if the youthful Cardinals shock the Ski Valley and make a title run. He based that notion on how well J-L played against bigger schools such as Bad Axe and Ithaca in Gaylord's camp.

"It just says we're a good team (that we can win games with only a few returning varsity players)," he said. "If we can beat teams that already have most of their varsity players coming back and we have mostly JV coming up, it means we'll be a good contender."

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Player of the Year: Extra reps help Huff, teammates rebuild J-L's program
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Put in the work and reap the benefits.

Johannesburg-Lewiston senior Logan Huff hardly ever was without a ball in his hand the past four seasons. Whether it was football, baseball or basketball, he was always practicing — outside of practice.

When it came to basketball, practices weren't over until he got up extra shots or worked on other parts of his game. In the offseason, he regularly played with his friends outdoors or on travel teams.

No one could keep him away from the court.

Because of Huff's hustle and ability to lead J-L to its best finish in nearly a decade as the team's point guard, the Herald Times has selected him as its Player of the Year for boys basketball.

But why did the senior spend so much additional time in the gym?

"Because I didn't feel satisfied with myself after practice," Huff said. "I wanted to stay after and get the complete confidence with myself and be where I wanted my game to be.

"If your shot is off or if you want to get more practice in, you want to make sure you have the most confidence you can have."

Huff's drive to be the best allowed the Cardinals to beat tough teams such as Boyne Falls (two Class D regional tournament appearances in the past three seasons) and Onaway (state quarterfinal appearance) this season. J-L even hung with Bellaire twice before being edged and settling for second place in the Ski Valley Conference title race.

Those extra shots in the offseason helped Huff average 19.9 points and 5.3 assists per game during the regular season. He scored 398 points and ended his campaign with over 1,000 in his career.

"He puts in a ton of extra time in the gym in the offseason," said J-L coach Troy Huff, who is also Logan's father. "In season, he's always the last kid out of the gym and has to be kicked out because he's spending time shooting 3s and working on his game.

"It's nice to have kids who don't settle for two hours of practice a day. I think that reflects on the year we had as well."

Logan's work ethic was contagious while playing for the Cardinals, and his teammates quickly adopted it — putting up extra repetitions following practices to help turn the J-L program around.

That included additional hustle from fellow seniors Nathan Fox, Brandon Huff and Orin Kierczynski, who helped take the Cardinals from 9-12 overall four seasons ago to 16-7 and 18-3 in the past two seasons.

Even this offseason, incoming freshmen Tanner Shimel and Tyson Claeys followed in Logan's footsteps, and both players earned starting time throughout the season.

"Five years ago, our basketball program was 2-18, and it wasn't very good," Coach Huff said. "With the other kids on the team, it made Logan better as well with Nate, Brandon and Orie and the other guys. It was a big part of Logan showing those other guys worth ethic as well.

"Tyson Claeys saw Logan staying after practice. He spent a lot of time staying after to shoot with him to further his game. It does take extra effort (to improve programs)."

Of course, J-L's turnaround this season wasn't without heartbreak.

The Cardinals fell to Traverse City St. Francis 79-65 in the Class C pre-district March 7 at Elk Rapids. Had the ball bounced in J-L's favor here or there, the Cardinals might have even competed for a district championship as well as a regional title because of the weak bracket that was ahead of them.

The loss still couldn't overshadow J-L's success, however.

"We didn't reach our goals as a district champ," Coach Huff said. "We fell short to some darn good teams this season (Bellaire, St. Francis). Overall, I thought we had a heck of a great season.

"We lose a lot with senior leadership, for sure. With Nate, Logan and Brandon, they have a lot of basketball under their belt. Orin started for me last season.

"We're heading in the right direction with the kids we do have. They have an understanding that it's not the same old basketball it used to be here. We're there to win and have fun, but it'll take effort. They've adopted that philosophy as well. I told them many times we're one of the smallest teams on the court but with hustle and determination, you can overcome and achieve your goals."

Added Logan: "(The turnaround) is amazing. My class has never not wanted to be successful. Going through high school, we always wanted to win and compete. We set our mind out and went for it this year."

Going forward, Logan turns his attention toward playing baseball this spring where he'll compete to sweep this year's Player of the Year awards, as he and cousin Brandon Huff were the HT's Co-Player of the Year in football earlier this school year.

However, it'll be tough for Logan to move on to another sport because of how much he loved playing basketball for the Cardinals.

"I'm going to miss it, the sport, the most," he said. "No. 2, I'm going to miss the experience I got and the life lessons I learned.

"I got to play with some pretty cool people."

2016 HT All-Area Team

First Team

Logan Huff, J-L

Brandon Huff, J-L

Jack Korte, Gaylord

Jakovon Pryor-McCovery, Gaylord

Levi Milan, St. Mary

Second Team

Nathan Fox, J-L

Michael Dipzinski, Gaylord

Blake Charboneau, Gaylord

Brady Hunter, St. Mary

Adam Nowicki, St. Mary

Honorable Mention

Tanner Shimel, J-L

Josh DeGraw, Gaylord

Jacob Freeman, Gaylord

Nic Straub, Vanderbilt

Brett Smith, Vanderbilt

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AP selects J-L's Huff to Class C All-State team
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

EAST LANSING — Logan Huff's immaculate senior season didn't go unnoticed.

The Associated Press named the Johannesburg-Lewiston senior boys basketball player to its All-State team as an Honorable Mention on Thursday.

Huff led the Cardinals to an 18-3 record by scoring 398 points and averaging 5.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game during the regular season.

He scored his 1,000th-career point during a Dec. 15 game at Mancelona.

The Ski Valley named Huff one of six players who were All-Conference First Team.

He helped the Cardinals earn a key win over Boyne Falls, 48-41 on Dec. 8, and sweep both Inland Lakes and Onaway, a squad that played in the Class D quarterfinal.

Also earning accolades from the AP, St. Ignace senior Gage Kreski was named the Class C Player of the Year while East Jordan's Jordan Weber made the First Team. Other notable players from the area included Inland Lakes' Andrew Dufek, Charlevoix's Austin Putman, Elk Rapids' Shae Somers and Traverse City St. Francis' Dylan Sheehy-Guiseppi, who each earned Honorable Mention nods.

St. Francis coach Keith Haske earned Coach of the Year. The Gladiators topped the Cardinals 79-65 in the Class C pre-district March 7 at Elk Rapids.

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Bittersweet: Huff scores 1,000th point but Cardinals fall to Glads in pre-district
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

ELK RAPIDS — When Johannesburg-Lewiston seniors Brandon Huff and Logan Huff were in elementary school, the two cousins made it a goal of theirs to each score 1,000 points and earn their name on the milestone list hanging on the school's gymnasium wall.

Logan Huff reached the 1,000th-point plateau during a Ski Valley game Dec. 15 at Mancelona. Brandon Huff finally made it there Monday.

He sank a pair of free throws during the third quarter of the Class C boys basketball pre-district at Elk Rapids to achieve the milestone. The crowd wanted to celebrate in the third, but he waved them off because his Cardinals were trailing Traverse City St. Francis by 13 points.

The Gladiators ultimately defeated the Cardinals 79-65 and advanced to Wednesday's district semifinal against Mancelona, overshadowing Brandon Huff's big night as his career as well as the careers of the rest of the seniors came to an end with the postseason loss.

"It feels great, and I've been working toward it since I was a freshman," Brandon Huff said. "It's great because going back, Logan and I have looked at those boards and wanted to get up there forever. I'm happy for him and happy for me, and I'm happy we both did it.

"But it was definitely a bumming loss for us. I'm just happy we gave it our all tonight."

St. Francis opened up the game to in the second quarter. It had led J-L only 15-14 entering the period, but the Gladiators used a 9-0 run to begin the second and then finished the quarter with five made 3-pointers.

That included a trio of 3-pointers from St. Francis wing Teddy Prichard and one apiece from Mitch Lurvey and Connor McGee. The Glads' efficient shooting downtown gave them a 40-29 cushion at halftime.

"We couldn't catch a break because that kid (Prichard) kept making another 3, and that was the factor that changed the game," J-L coach Troy Huff said.

The Cardinals, who ended their season 18-3, fought back in the third quarter and managed to trim their deficit to eight points. Nathan Fox, who had scored on two drives earlier in the third, made a contested lay up that cut St. Francis' lead to 51-42 with three minutes left.

"I thought Nate had the mismatch and took it to the hole hard and strong tonight," Coach Huff said.

The Gladiators led J-L 60-50 after the third quarter and the best the Cardinals could do was shrink their deficit to nine points in the fourth.

Keeping St. Francis' lead secure during the second half was another two 3-pointers from Prichard and one from Gabe Callery while the Gladiators did an effective job of swinging the ball to find Marek Laucky open on the backside for short-range shots.

"We could never rebound from that (second quarter deficit)," Coach Huff said. "We got it down to eight in the third and nine in the fourth, but they'd come down and hit another 3-pointer."

Prichard led St. Francis with 26 points. He made six 3-pointers, and he helped with 13 points in the second quarter.

Laucky finished with 18 points, making seven field goals in the second half, and Callery and Dylan Sheehy-Guiseppi each scored 11.

"I didn't expect them to shoot as well as they did," Brandon Huff said. "The second quarter was harsh, but we couldn't do anything about it."

Brandon Huff scored 26 points to lead the Cardinals while Fox finished with 22, and Logan Huff had 11.

Kyle May, recently moved up from the junior varsity, scored three points and provided a spark for the Cardinals during the second half when they faced foul trouble and needed ball movement to the backside.

"Kyle, since I've brought him up, hasn't even wavered," Coach Huff said. "I thought he did an outstanding job, and that'll be huge next year for me having that young man back."

Brent Carpenter scored on a 4-footer in the second quarter, and Tyson Claeys rounded out J-L's scoring by making a foul shot in the first period.

The Cardinals graduate five seniors, including their big three in Brandon Huff, Logan Huff and Fox as well as Carpenter and Orin Kierczynski, who was a two-year starter.

"Big shout out to my seniors," Coach Huff said. "Joburg basketball, four years ago, was the laughing stock of the Ski Valley, and the kids have worked hard throughout the years.

"I've had two of them since they were freshmen (Brandon Huff and Logan Huff) up for four years, and Nate has been up for three years. Orie stepped up big for me for two years. It was nice to get Brent back, but it was unfortunate he was injured all those games this season. He was a big factor in there when you could use him."

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Last shot for district championship for Cardinals' seniors
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — It's the final ride for Johannesburg-Lewiston's big three, the three seniors who start and have made up the core of the Cardinals' roster for the past three and four seasons, respectively.

Now the Cardinals will rely on each of them — Logan Huff, Brandon Huff and Nathan Fox — as they compete in the Class C boys basketball district tournament. That tournament starts with a pre-district game Monday, March 7 against Traverse City St. Francis at Elk Rapids.

"We want to win the district, and we're definitely capable of achieving that," J-L coach Troy Huff said.

"We just got to be patient with the ball, get great shots and use our great shooters. We got great athletes that can score at will. We have to continue to work at that and get our freshmen to score as well."

Those freshmen? They're Tanner Shimel and Tyson Claeys, who both start and help by filling specific roles for the Cardinals.

Shimel, who moved up from the junior varsity midway through the season, is a consistent ball handler and ensures J-L can move past opposing full-court presses and set up clean offensive sets.

Claeys, however, is a lengthy post player who can play on the wing, grab rebounds and run in transition similar to Fox and Brandon Huff.

Also contributing for the Cardinals are Orin Kierczynski and McGwire Mathewson, who both come in off the bench.

Should J-L stick to its style of play, by running in transition and utilizing methodical passes in the half court, it could advance to the district semifinal where it would face Mancelona on Wednesday, March 9.

"We talked about starting out fast but yet being patient," Coach Huff said. "Going fast doesn't mean going fast down the court.

"We talk about that to them over and over and over again. We need to start out patient and see the floor. We need to get good looks and good things will happen.

The semifinal winner will likely draw Elk Rapids or Glen Lake in the district championship Friday, March 11 with a trip to the regional semifinal held March 14 at Manton on the line.

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Stout defense pushes Cardinals past Eagles in season finale
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — A dominant defensive effort guided Johannesburg-Lewiston to a win in its regular-season finale Thursday.

Brandon Huff scored 25 points, and the Cardinals defeated visiting Fairview 56-37 in a non conference boys basketball game.

The Cardinals (18-2) relied on its defensive trap to force the Eagles into making turnovers offensively. That defense also gave them a 17-2 lead entering the second quarter.

"We played really well and trapped," J-L coach Troy Huff said.

Logan Huff finished with 14 points, seven assists and four steals to help the Cardinals while Brandon Huff also had two steals. Nate Fox scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds.

"It was a good way to end the season, and everyone got to play," Coach Huff said.

The Cardinals open the postseason when it faces Traverse City St. Francis in the Class C pre-district Monday, March 7 at Elk Rapids.

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Huff scores 32 points as Cardinals earn comeback win at Mio
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

MIO — The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball needed a late comeback to win Tuesday.

Logan Huff finished with a double-double (32 points, 10 assists), and the Cardinals came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat host Mio 66-62 in a non conference game.

Mio had led by five points early in the fourth before Huff buried a 3-pointer that ignited his team to a run and the ensuing comeback victory.

"It was a heck of a shootout," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "The boys played hard."

The Cardinals (17-2, 14-2 Ski Valley) struggled to slow down Mio's shooters, who made several contested 3-pointers. Those shots from downtown helped Mio grab its lead in the fourth as well.

Brandon Huff finished with 24 points and five rebounds for the Cardinals while Logan Huff also was 4-for-6 shooting 3s and 10-for-10 from the foul line.

Also for J-L, Nathan Fox scored 12 points, and Tyson Claeys had six.

The Cardinals shot 77 percent from the foul line.

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Cardinals claim 2nd place in Ski Valley after beating Onaway
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

ONAWAY — The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team closed out the conference season in style Friday, playing its brand of basketball to earn a convincing win on the road.

Brandon Huff scored 31 points, and J-L used its transition offense to defeat host Onaway 74-59 in a Ski Valley game.

"We pushed the ball up on them," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We got some good looks underneath.

Helping J-L run in transition was Logan Huff, who finished with 17 points and six assists. He also shot 5-for-5 from the foul line.

J-L (16-2, 14-2 Ski Valley) led Onaway 38-25 at halftime.

"We ran in transition and got good looks, pushing the ball up between Nate (Fox), Kyle (May) and Logan," Coach Huff said. "They were feeding it down to Tyson (Claeys) and Brandon. Obviously, they're money when you get them in the paint."

Brandon Huff shot 9-for-13 from the foul line while Orin Kierczynski, who started in place of Tanner Shimel (illness), played well defensively.

"We started Orie, and he did a great job," Coach Huff said. "He had three fouls early in the game and sat some, but he came up with some nice steals for us.

"We got good minutes out of my bench. Kyle came off the bench for me. He gave me great minutes and took care of the basketball."

The win locked up sole possession of second place in the Ski Valley standings for J-L while Bellaire claimed the outright conference title earlier in the week.

J-L returns to the hardwood when it visits Mio for a non conference game Tuesday, March 1.

"It was a good way to close out the Ski Valley," Coach Huff said. "We finished up in second place, and the boys are peaking at the right time."

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Photo by Brandon Folsom Gaylord Herald Times

#BellaireVsEverybody: Underwood's late effort dooms Cardinals' comeback
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

BELLAIRE — A team like Bellaire, which is chasing its fifth straight Ski Valley Conference championship and 12th since 2000, is used to opposing boys basketball teams putting a target on its back.

And because everybody wants to beat Bellaire, the team has created the #BellaireVsEverybody hashtag it uses on social media. If it weren't for a fourth-quarter stand and heady play by Nic Underwood, that hashtag would have gone viral for all the wrong reasons Friday.

Underwood scored 13 points (11 in the fourth), and the Eagles topped visiting Johannesburg-Lewiston 57-47 during a Ski Valley game, handing the Cardinals their second conference loss. The win all but eliminated the Cardinals from stealing the league title from the Eagles.

"I thought it was an outstanding effort by the boys," J-L coach Troy Huff said. 'They fought hard.

"You got to give it to Bellaire. A lot of those kids don't play football, and they only play basketball. Gabe (Meriwether), that's all he does. He's a nice player, but I don't think he hurt us either."

No, it was a host of Eagles, especially Underwood late, who ended J-L's conference title hopes.

A pair of foul shots by Bellaire's Hayden Niepoth gave the Eagles a 40-27 advantage in the third quarter.

But the Cardinals fought back, using a 12-1 run in both the third and fourth periods to trim their deficit to 41-39 with 6:18 remaining.

That run saw J-L's Brandon Huff score down low, Logan Huff make two foul shots, Nathan Fox score in transition and Tyson Claeys hit two shots in the post.

The play that trimmed J-L's deficit to only two points was a well-placed bounce pass by Orin Kierczynski to Brandon Huff for a basket down low.

A technical foul by a Bellaire player also helped J-L garner momentum during their comeback attempt.

"Their penetration and rebounding down there were eating us up," Bellaire coach Stan Sexton said. "Of course, in the last run they made at us, we got a little mentally irregular by picking up a technical, and that's just bad business. That hurt but the kids reached down.

"And Nic made a couple of nice steals and a couple of nice baskets and free throws to build that lead back up."

Underwood buried a 3-pointer to end J-L's 12-1 run with 4:12 left, and then he scored in transition after Niepoth nabbed a steal on the next possession.

That was the start of a 9-0 run for the Eagles that gave them a big enough lead to separate from the Cardinals once again.

Then Underwood ultimately ended J-L's chances of a second comeback by making a basket in the paint and drawing a foul shot, one he converted to give the Eagles a 53-41 lead with 1:46 left.

Coach Huff was happy with how J-L played overall, however, considering it trailed Bellaire 29-17 at halftime and had scored only two points in the second quarter after trailing only 16-15 following the first period.

"(The comeback) just shows the adversity they can overcome and that they didn't quit," he said. "When they're in that ball game (trailing), we talked about getting just two points at a time.

"We had to keep working, and that's what they did to keep trimming it down. We got right back into it."

Brandon Huff scored a game-high 16 points while Logan Huff helped with 14. Fox added nine points, and Claeys chipped in seven.

"The boys came out fiery and played their butts off all night long," Coach Huff said. "At times in the game, I thought we got a little impatient. We didn't let our offense work, especially when we got it down to two points because we forced a couple of passes."

The Cardinals shot just 6-for-18 from the foul line.

"Our free throws as a team hurt us," Coach Huff said. "We shoot anywhere around 80 percent most games.

"Free throws can lose you games when you don't finish. If we hit our free throws, we win by five."

Underwood's 11-point effort in the fourth included one 3-pointer, three field goals and him finishing 2-for-3 from the foul line.

Also for the Eagles, Jamal Lockhart scored 11 points, Douglas Verellen added nine and Niepoth, Meriwether and Charlie Rainey each had eight.

The loss dropped J-L to 14-2 overall and 12-2 in the conference. Both its losses came against the Eagles, as Bellaire topped the Cardinals 52-40 during a Jan. 19 meeting earlier this season.

The Cardinals look to rebound from Friday's loss when they host Pellston for a Ski Valley game Wednesday, Feb. 24.

"We want to finish out strong and get ready to win a district title," Coach Huff said. "We need to keep pushing forward."

As for the Eagles, who are 15-1 overall and 13-0 in the Ski Valley, they must win out to claim the outright league championship.

That all starts Monday, Feb. 22 when they host Inland Lakes. They also have upcoming games against Central Lake and Onaway they must win to clinch the title — it really is #BellaireVsEverybody.

"We got a chance to run the table," Sexton said. "We got a game Monday with I-Lakes, and they're going to be tough. There's no doubt about it. Friday we go up to Central Lake. Central Lake is always tough. Then we go to Onaway.

"If we can take care of it next week, we have it (conference title). But it'd be nice to take care of next week. I think we got a good shot at it."

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Folsom

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Wake-up call: Cardinals overcome 2nd-quarter lull to down Trojans
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — While the scoreboard showed a convincing win, that wasn't the case for Johannesburg-Lewiston late in the first half when it nearly let visiting Central Lake back into the game.

Logan Huff scored 16 points, and the Cardinals topped the Trojans 78-48 in a Ski Valley boys basketball game Friday.

The Cardinals (14-1, 12-1 Ski Valley) had led Central Lake 32-16 with over two minutes left before halftime, but the Trojans switched to a 3/4-court press that gave them a 9-2 run to end the second quarter.

The Cardinals escaped with a 34-25 halftime lead, but their final few possessions were plagued by turnovers and sloppy offensive sets in the half court.

The end of the first half also wasn't conducive to a Cardinals squad that will be in search of a Class C district championship once the postseason begins March 7 at Elk Rapids.

"I don't think it was a scare, but it was a lack of focus," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We needed to focus, and we've seen enough of them this year that sometimes they don't play to their ability and what they're capable of playing like.

"They just went through the motions, and it frustrates the heck out of me when they do that."

The Cardinals opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run and eventually carried a 55-32 advantage into the fourth.

They capitalized on scoring points in transition, as Nathan Fox hit teammates Logan Huff, Brandon Huff and Tanner Shimel with long passes for quick baskets.

"I got after them at halftime to get back to playing our ball by being patient and not throwing it away," Coach Huff said.

"Everybody kind of quit playing team ball (in the first half) and started playing individual ball. When we stopped doing that, we went back up with the lead, and we ran well with transition ball, too."

Fox finished with 15 points while Brandon Huff had 14, Tyson Claeys scored nine and Shimel chipped in eight.

Troy Boughner played one of his best games off the bench, finishing with a career-high seven points and grabbing key rebounds.

"Troy is long, tall and gives good effort," Coach Huff said.

"I thought the bench did a phenomenal job coming in. The bench came in and played big minutes and gave us a lot of points."

Also helping off the bench were McGwire Mathewson (four points) and Orin Kierczynski (five points), who also played well defensively.

"McGwire and Orie hit some shots, and Orie was looking to be a scoring threat which I like a lot," Coach Huff said. "He's got good hands and feet, and he had a couple of steals there."

Isaac Mortensen led Central Lake with a game-high 19 points, spearheading the Trojans' effort during their comeback attempt late in the first half.

The Cardinals are off until they visit Bellaire for a Ski Valley game Friday, Feb. 19.

The matchup will be a pivotal one that decides the conference championship, as a J-L win could force a two-way tie for the league title. A Bellaire win could give the Eagles (13-1, 11-0 Ski Valley) the outright championship.

The Cardinals will focus on their offense in practice leading up to the game.

"We need to be patient with the ball and play a Bellaire style of ball, I call it," Coach Huff said. "We need to be patient, swing the ball, penetrate and drive.

"We need to take a good shot when nobody is forcing you to shoot. We got to have good looks."

Bellaire topped J-L 52-40 in a Jan. 19 meeting.

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Early fight: Cardinals fend off Snowbirds' strong start in rivalry clash
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — It wasn't the start Johannesburg-Lewiston wanted, especially against its rival, St. Mary, a team it had defeated by 22 points during a boys basketball matchup earlier this season.

Logan Huff scored 23 points, and the Cardinals needed an 11-0 run in the second quarter to erase a lackadaisical start to beat the visiting Snowbirds 57-33 in a Ski Valley meeting Monday at home.

The Cardinals (13-1, 11-1 Ski Valley) fought back and forth with the Snowbirds in the first quarter, settling for a 9-9 tie to end the period. They held St. Mary scoreless for nearly five minutes in the second and needed their long run to ensure they maintained momentum entering halftime.

"I told them that any day of the week you can get beat, and you could see we were a little sluggish," J-L coach Troy Huff said.

The Cardinals got back to what has worked for them all season long in the second quarter: patient offensive sets and transition buckets off rebounds and steals.

Brandon Huff, who finished with 16 points, made a basket to open the period. But it was a 3-pointer from Nathan Fox that kick started J-L's 11-0 run.

On the next possession, Fox threw a pass down the court to a speeding Logan Huff, who finished at the rim.

Shortly afterward, Brandon Huff scored another basket in the post, and then Logan Huff got a lay up in transition.

A Logan Huff jumper from the baseline finished J-L's long run and ensured the Cardinals led St. Mary 23-14 at halftime.

"Obviously, when you start making shots in the paint and around the paint, then you can run in transition, too," Coach Huff said. "You saw that later on (in the second), and that opened up other parts of our game."

Turnovers doomed the Snowbirds, who dropped to 7-7 overall and 5-7 in the Ski Valley, during the second. Their shot selection also led to them going scoreless for nearly five minutes.

"Unfortunately for us, the ball got away from us there in the second quarter, and their (J-L) defense tightened up a little bit more," St. Mary coach Ken Blust said. "They put the pressure on us.

"We saw the game get away from us a little bit, so I don't think our shot selection was as good. We went away from our offense and weren't passing or cutting enough as we did in the first quarter."

St. Mary couldn't have asked for a better start to the game, however, as the Snowbirds garnered a 5-2 lead after Liam Beningo and Brady Hunter each made baskets after the opening tip.

Shortly afterward, though, Logan Huff put the Cardinals ahead of St. Mary 9-5 after scoring on a pair of lay ups.

But St. Mary's Andrew Greif converted on a strong take to the basket and on the next possession, Adam Nowicki nabbed a steal and found Levi Milan in transition to tie the score 9-9 just before the buzzer.

The Cardinals looked lackluster on offense early on, and St. Mary's defense took advantage of J-L's forced passes and turnovers in the paint.

However, the Cardinals struggled offensively for only the first eight minutes. And then Coach Huff reminded his team between the first and second quarters about how important passing is in its offense.

"If the pass is not there, we don't need the amazing pass," he said. "We need to work the ball around and get the good looks.

"We got good enough shooters. We have too many weapons to rely on a one-pass, one-shot offense."

The Cardinals led St. Mary 40-25 after the third quarter and outscored the Snowbirds 17-8 in the fourth.

Fox finished with 10 points while Troy Boughner and Tyson Claeys each helped the Cardinals with four points.

Josh Nowicki and Greif each led St. Mary with seven points, Josh Powers had six and Milan and Hunter each scored five.

"We were right in it and had a great attitude coming out of the locker room," Blust said. "They wanted to go out there and compete.

"They knew what we've done in the past against them (J-L), but at the same time they were up for the challenge. It showed when it was 9-9."

The Cardinals return to action Friday, Feb. 12 when they host Central Lake for a Ski Valley game while St. Mary visits Boyne Falls for a non conference game the same night.

J-L downed the Trojans 72-41 in a Feb. 1 meeting, and Coach Huff said he doesn't want his team to begin Friday's game as lackluster as it did against the Snowbirds, regardless of how improved St. Mary has played this season.

"I got to hand it to Ken," Coach Huff said. "He's worked hard with his team, and this is a much-improved team with Ski Valley wins.

"They have five wins in the Ski Valley, and they didn't have one last year. They were 0-16 in the Ski Valley."

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Cardinals overcome slow offensive start to down Bulldogs at home
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — An offensive lull in the first quarter slowed down the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team, but it couldn't keep it from earning a crucial win Friday.

Logan Huff scored 21 points and had seven assists, and the Cardinals defeated visiting Inland Lakes 65-54 in a Ski Valley game.

"They (Inland Lakes) played really good defense early on," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "They had offensive boards in the first quarter, and we weren't getting our shots to fall. They went in and out.

"We had pretty good looks, but it wasn't until Logan hit a 3 that got us to start rolling near the end of the first quarter."

Inland Lakes led J-L 15-7 early in the first quarter, but the Cardinals worked to take the lead back before the period ended.

"The refs didn't call many fouls in the first quarter," Coach Huff said. "Nate (Fox) and Brandon (Huff) got hacked, but it was what it was.

"We played through it, and then they started calling those calls later in the game. That let us score off Logan's dribble drive and him feeding it into Brandon in the low post."

J-L went into the locker room leading 26-22 at halftime and was ahead of Inland Lakes 38-32 entering the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals (12-1, 10-1 Ski Valley) led by as many as 12 points in the final eight minutes and outscored Inland Lakes 26-22 to end the game.

"In the fourth, we just got good looks, and they pressed us, but we got easy baskets off the press," Coach Huff said.

Fox finished with a double-double (19 points, 16 rebounds) while Brandon Huff scored 17 points and pulled down six rebounds. Tyson Claeys scored three points and grabbed seven rebounds.

"We shot well from the floor," Coach Huff said.

The Cardinals also utilized play from some of their role players such as Tanner Shimel, Orin Kierczynski and McGwire Mathewson.

"Tanner took care of the ball tonight," Coach Huff said. "Orin, off the bench, played phenomenally and took care of the ball and handled the pressure from Inland Lakes. McGwire gave us some big rebounds."

Mike O'Connor led Inland Lakes with 21 points. Ian Clancy (punctured lung), who recently returned from an injury, scored 10 points while the Cardinals limited him to no points in the first half.

"Tanner guarded him (Clancy) and did a great job," Coach Huff said. "He didn't give him too much. Orin stole the ball from him four times, and Tanner stripped him once."

The Cardinals host rival St. Mary for a Ski Valley game Monday, Feb. 8 and follow up that matchup with a contest against visiting Central Lake on Friday, Feb. 12.

J-L is one game down in the conference standings and is eyeing a chance to win the Ski Valley title as its schedule winds down.

"That's what we're shooting for, a conference title," Coach Huff said. "We control our own destiny and play Bellaire in two weeks.

"We're going to take it one game at a time."

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Second-half effort, bench push Cardinals past host Warriors
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

FIFE LAKE — Sloppy play marred Johannesburg-Lewiston in the first half, but its boys basketball team rebounded with a hard-fought effort in the second to earn a win Wednesday.

Brandon Huff scored 28 points, and the Cardinals defeated host Forest Area 74-50 in a Ski Valley game.

The Cardinals (11-1, 9-1) led Forest Area only 38-30 at halftime.

"We weren't patient with the ball and had some foolish turnovers at the beginning," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We tried to make amazing passes instead of working the ball around to get easy passes.

"When we started to do that in the third, we opened the game right up."

J-L outscored Forest Area 36-20 in the second half.

"We were patient in the second half," Coach Huff said. "We saw the floor to hit the weak side, and it really opened up the game.

"We took care of the ball, too."

Logan Huff helped the Cardinals by scoring 19 points while Nathan Fox finished with 17.

Also for J-L, Orin Kierczynski scored four points, Troy Boughner had three and McGwire Mathewson and Tanner Shimel each had two. Mike Courterier also contributed well off the bench.

"We played well, and I got a chance to get my bench in," Coach Huff said. "They played well.

"Courterier played several good minutes for us, and Orin was a solid player coming off the bench and giving us a good effort.

The Cardinals return to the hardwood Friday, Feb. 5 when they host Inland Lakes for a Ski Valley game.

"We have to take this momentum into Friday and get good minutes out of our bench," Coach Huff said.

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Trap house: Cardinals whip up Trojans with opportunistic defense
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

CENTRAL LAKE — Don't look now, but Johannesburg-Lewiston is adding more wrinkles to its already stellar boys basketball team's repertoire.

And the rest of the Ski Valley should be worried.

The Cardinals used their new defensive trap to create steals and score in transition Monday, ultimately holding host Central Lake scoreless for over four straight minutes in the second quarter.

They left the conference matchup with a 72-41 win over the Trojans.

"We were trapping at will and then looking for the return pass (in transition), and that's how we got out and ran," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "That's something we've been working on in the last week and a half, and I think it'll be a very effective part of our game going forward."

The Cardinals (10-1, 8-1 Ski Valley) used offensive efforts from Logan Huff and Brandon Huff to grab an early 20-8 lead in the first quarter.

That included Logan Huff scoring on two different drives to the basket and burying two 3-pointers while Brandon Huff made three field goals, one being a smooth lay up in transition off a pass from McGwire Mathewson.

"We went hard and strong to the basket, and we were getting a lot of calls," Coach Huff said. "We haven't been getting a lot of those body control calls, but I thought the officials did a nice job tonight calling the calls that needed to be called."

The Cardinals took complete control of the game in the second quarter, as their defense played lights out.

Central Lake's Elijah Newton opened the period by making one foul shot, and then J-L held the Trojans scoreless for just over four minutes. Central Lake ended the second with only four made field goals.

Offensively, the Cardinals capitalized in transition with plays made by Nathan Fox and Mike Courterier while Tyson Claeys hit three shots down low off dump-off passes.

J-L entered the locker room leading Central Lake 44-17 at halftime.

The Cardinals led the Trojans 62-27 after the third quarter, but they allowed Central Lake to outscore them 14-10 in the final eight minutes.

"They took over and dictated the game," Coach Huff said. "We ran the floor pretty well, ran in transition and hit a lot of shots.

"I wanted them to be a little more patient and get better looks in the second half, but, all in all, I thought they played phenomenal tonight."

Logan Huff led J-L with 21 points, Brandon Huff scored 20 and Fox finished with 13, scoring nine of his points in the second half.

Also for the Cardinals, Claeys scored eight points, Troy Boughner pulled down aggressive rebounds in the second half and Orin Kierczynski helped with his ball handling off the bench.

Newton paced the Trojans, which fell to 3-9 overall and 2-7 in the conference, with 10 points. Eddie Boh scored nine points, Jacob Luchenbil added six and Isaac Mortensen chipped in five.

J-L returns to action Wednesday, Feb. 3 when it visits Forest Area for a Ski Valley game, but the Cardinals also have their eyes on their matchup Friday, Feb. 5 against visiting Inland Lakes.

The Bulldogs (7-3, 5-2 Ski Valley) are a team on the rise, despite recent losses to Onaway (76-51) and Posen (46-45).

"I know Onaway took care of business with them, but we just have to be patient, see the floor, make good passes and box out," Coach Huff said.

The Cardinals edged the Bulldogs 44-42 during a Jan. 5 meeting, but Inland Lakes played the game without its top scorer, Ian Clancy (punctured lung), who suffered a severe injury early in the season.

However, Clancy made his return to the Bulldogs during Monday's 56-39 win at DeTour and scored a team-high 16 points.

Stopping Clancy will be key for the Cardinals.

"We just got to play our ball game," Coach Huff said. "He's obviously a very good player. He's still going to be struggling with his legs (conditioning), but if we can continue to play how we're playing right now, we will be able to take care of business."


Cardinals find legs as Huff duo leads in win over Ironmen
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Troy Huff knows his boys basketball team is close to becoming the Class C district champion contender he wants it to be when tournament time comes in March.

And the Cardinals looked tournament ready Friday, as Logan Huff scored a game-high 29 points and shot 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line to help his team defeat visiting Mancelona 74-33 in Ski Valley play.

"I feel we're starting to get our legs underneath us and find our rhythm offensively," Coach Huff said. "The boys are shooting well.

"I was wondering how their legs would be after the big win against Onaway (a 77-67 win Wednesday). We're getting our legs underneath us, for sure."

The Cardinals (9-1, 7-1 Ski Valley) also received a strong effort from Brandon Huff, who scored 25 points and nabbed four steals.

J-L's Nate Fox scored 14 points and had six assists.

"We ran in transition, and Logan was hot from 3," Coach Huff said. "Our shooting was the real deal.

"We shot pretty well from the floor. We shot almost 60 percent overall."

The Cardinals had 14 steals as a team while Mike Courterier scored four points off the bench, and Tyson Claeys chipped in two points.

Also playing well off the bench was McGwire Mathewson and Troy Boughner. Tanner Shimel, a freshman who had two points, made his first career start.

"I'm pleased with my starters as well with my bench," Coach Huff said. "I started Tanner tonight, and he did an absolutely phenomenal job. He only gave me two points, but he does a lot of things and is very creative with the ball in his hands.

"McGwire came in and was big on rebounds, and Troy Boughner came in and gave us some good minutes. We played really good defense."

The Cardinals return to action Wednesday, Feb. 3 when they visit Forest Area for a Ski Valley game. They topped the Warriors 91-45 in a Dec. 17 matchup at home.

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Finishing strong: Huff scores 30 points as J-L uses clutch effort to edge Onaway
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston's tenacity to overcome adversity time and time again was critical for its boys basketball team to capture a close win Wednesday.

Brandon Huff scored a career-high 30 points, and the Cardinals edged visiting Onaway 77-67 in a Ski Valley game. They overcame deficits and foul trouble and then used clutch foul shooting late (12-for-14 in the fourth quarter) to hand Onaway (9-1, 6-1) its first loss of the season.

"I talk about that every time before our games," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "You got to finish at the line, and we shot over 80 percent tonight.

"Even more so than that, the conviction our team came out with tonight was phenomenal."

J-L (8-1, 6-1 Ski Valley) found itself in a deficit early against Onaway, despite Brandon Huff scoring his team's first nine points.

Onaway had led 15-9 after Derick Wregglesworth scored from close range midway through the first.

However, Logan Huff buried a baseline 3-pointer to trim J-L's deficit, and then Nathan Fox dribbled around Onaway's full-court pressure defense and finished at the rim to cut Onaway's lead to 15-14.

Shortly afterward, Onaway's Billy Moran hit an elbow 3-pointer, but Brandon Huff followed it up with two made free throws, ensuring both squads entered the second quarter tied 20-20.

Logan Huff opened the second with a 3-pointer, and then he and Tanner Shimel each hit short shots to give J-L a 25-23 edge.

J-L went on an 11-4 run after Logan Huff hit another 3-pointer, and Fox scored on a put back and in transition.

However, Onaway's Brad Brewbaker and Cortez Washington each scored in transition on back-to-back possessions, and then Billy Moran made another 3-pointer that cut J-L's lead to 38-34 at halftime.

Brandon Huff scored 17 points in the first half.

"The fast breaks helped, and I have to give all the credit to our point guards because they helped give me the ball tonight," he said. "Without them, we wouldn't have won this game with the pressure they (Onaway) put on us. I give this win to the point guards.

"I was just under the boards and working hard down there, getting dishes and dumps for lay ups and easy stuff. That's all I shot."

J-L outscored Onaway 21-10 in the third quarter, utilizing high-percentage shots down low from Brandon Huff and Tyson Claeys.

Onaway eventually trimmed its deficit to 62-60 with 4:06 left, benefiting from the absence of Fox, who had fouled out to start the fourth. But Logan Huff and Brandon Huff each made two foul shots in the bonus to extend J-L's lead.

"It was a huge hurdle to overcome and a lot of adversity losing Nate," Coach Huff said. "He's a big, powerful No. 1-2 guard (point guard and shooting guard), whatever you want to call him, because he creates, too.

"I thought the boys showed a lot of composure coming back from that."

The best Onaway could do was trim its deficit to 71-65 with 2:07 left, but J-L made free throws nearly each time Onaway recorded a foul.

"Free throws were key because there were a ton of fouls tonight," Brandon Huff said. "With that, that helped win the game and seal it in the end."

Logan Huff assisted J-L by scoring 20 points while Fox finished with 12.

J-L also received a boost from Shimel, who came in off the bench and scored six points and handled the ball well against Onaway's press.

"Tanner came in off the bench and played phenomenal as a freshman," Coach Huff said. "Like I told him after the game, tonight he was my MVP and player of the game because of the simple fact that he didn't play like a freshman.

"He came out and looked controlled. He's a great ball-handler and was very decisive with his passes. He did an awesome job."

Washington led Onaway with 21 points while Brewbaker had 13.

Onaway guard Joe Sigsby (right knee), who missed most the first half with an injury, scored 17 points.

"They're great players," Brandon Huff said. "That Sigsby player is a heck of a player, and he's quick and can shoot.

"Cortez Washington will drive on you, and they're all aggressive players. They're good players."

J-L returns to the hardwood Friday, Jan. 29 when it hosts Mancelona for a Ski Valley game.

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Cardinals overcome illness, hot-shooting Hornets for road conference win
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

PELLSTON — The flu bug limited two Johannesburg-Lewiston starters during Thursday's boys basketball game at Pellston.

But Brandon Huff scored 26 points, and the Cardinals pushed past the hot-shooting Hornets 71-59 in a Ski Valley game.

"We had a couple of boys who weren't feeling good," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "Logan (Huff) and Nate (Fox) played and were half sick with no energy, and it was a close game for the first three quarters."

The Cardinals (7-1, 5-1 Ski Valley) led for most the game by five to seven points, but it broke open their lead with three minutes left.

Coach Huff called for his offense to play five-out, with Logan Huff penetrating to create contested lay ups that drew fouls near the basket or for the senior to dump off the ball to teammates underneath.

The adjustment worked, allowing the Cardinals to grab a comfortable lead down the stretch.

Fox finished with 20 points while Logan Huff had 13.

Also contributing for the Cardinals, Troy Boughner came off the bench and scored five points, including finishing 3-for-3 from the foul line.

"He got in during the first quarter," Coach Huff said. "He got a give and go from Logan he finished in front of the rim, and he got fouled. He finished with a free throw for the 3-point play."

Coach Huff estimated that Pellston shot around 70 percent from the floor.

The Cardinals return to action Wednesday, Jan. 27 when they host Onaway (8-0, 6-0 Ski Valley) for a conference matchup.

Coach Huff said the team would focus on getting healthy again.

"All I told them is we're giving them tomorrow (Friday) off to get healthy and to come back Sunday night and start practicing," Coach Huff said.

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Regressive flow: 12-day layoff hurts Cardinals' play against Eagles
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Twelve days.

That's how long Johannesburg-Lewiston went without playing a boys basketball game. With its high-powered offense, one that depends on precise ball movement with dribbling and passing, a layoff like that could hinder how polished it plays.

And it did.

Bellaire junior Gabe Meriwether scored 21 points, and the visiting Eagles topped the sluggish Cardinals 52-40 in a Ski Valley clash Tuesday.

The loss dropped the Cardinals to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference, creating a two-way tie for first place with Bellaire and Onaway as two 5-0 teams leading the Ski Valley title race.

"I told the boys that for as bad as we played tonight, we were down by (eight) with two minutes left and 13 turnovers," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "When you have that big of a layover, you don't have your flow with this offense.

"I was worried about that before the game and talked to my team about that. Twelve days off without a game, I was worried about that."

Charlie Rainey's bank shot underneath put Bellaire ahead J-L 42-30, its biggest lead, with 5:25 left. The Cardinals played catch-up to finish the game.

Logan Huff made a running shot to trim J-L's deficit to 46-36, and then Nathan Fox made two free throws off a technical foul shortly afterward.

Logan Huff fouled out with 2:20 left, limiting the Cardinals' offense without their starting point guard and leading scorer this season.

"It was an (eight-point) ball game before he fouled out," Coach Huff said. "They kept fighting. They're fighters and are not going down without fighting hard."

The Eagles made foul shots in the bonus to pull away from J-L in the final minute.

J-L started well until its offense couldn't maintain the pace with Bellaire.

Fox's put back tied the score 2-2 1:38 into action and almost two minutes later, Tyson Claeys found him with a pass for an underneath score to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead in the first quarter.

Both Logan Huff and Brandon Huff made consecutive contested baskets near the rim that gave J-L an 8-6 advantage.

Brandon Huff scored another tough shot to give his team its biggest lead, a 10-5 edge with 3:10 left in the first.

Then J-L's offense lost momentum as turnovers and long shots that rimmed out hurt most of its possessions to finish the quarter.

Bellaire led 13-10 after the first and 22-16 at halftime.

"Turnovers were the big factor," Coach Huff said. "That was frustrating. A lot of those were unforced with our younger guys. But they're going to grow from it.

"Bringing the ball up the floor, we had turnovers with nobody on us or pressuring the ball handlers."

Logan Huff buried a buzzer-beater a few feet beyond the 3-point line to end the third quarter, but the Cardinals still trailed the Eagles 38-30 entering the final eight minutes

Brandon Huff and Fox each finished with 14 points while Logan Huff helped with nine points. Claeys chipped in three.

"We weren't swinging the ball," Coach Huff said. "We wouldn't have missed wide-open players underneath had we kept swinging the ball.

"We were too Helter Skelter."

The Cardinals played without 6-foot-5 center Brent Carpenter (leg), who suffered an injury Dec. 16 against Forest Area and has had limited playing time since.

Bellaire's Jamal Lockhart scored 12 points (10 in the second half), and Douglas Verellen made two 3-pointers to finish with six points.

Meriwether scored at least five points in each period.

"Meriwether was on fire," Coach Huff said. "He was shooting and hitting big shots."

The Cardinals return to the hardwood Thursday, Jan. 21 when they visit Pellston for a conference matchup.

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J-L defeats Gaylord St. Mary's

Finding their flow: Cardinals overcome slow start to beat rival Snowbirds
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

GAYLORD — Johannesburg-Lewiston senior Brent Carpenter had a career performance (15 points, 12 rebounds) in the boys basketball team's Dec. 16 win against Forest Area.

However, the 6-foot-7 center also suffered a bone bruise on his right leg during that Ski Valley matchup. He has been limited in practice since.

His absence early on Friday hindered the Cardinals against St. Mary, but they regrouped with a stellar second quarter en route to a 73-51 win over the host Snowbirds in Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.

J-L (6-0, 4-0 Ski Valley) had led St. Mary only 19-10 following the first quarter. But six different Cardinals scored in the second to help them finish with 22 points in the period and garner a convincing lead it maintained until the game ended.

J-L senior Logan Huff scored seven of his 19 points in the period while freshman Tyson Claeys, who started in place of Carpenter, found a rhythm and scored four points in the quarter.

"It took us awhile to get our legs back underneath us and for us to figure out things," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "Tyson Claeys, we had to figure out his role as well.

"Brent was obviously out again for the first quarter. We tried to work in some different guys and see where our flow was. We were still making freshmen mistakes at times, but we did a lot of things right, too."

The Cardinals started doing the right things toward the end of the first quarter.

But they started the second on fire, as they hit most of their jumpers and scored in transition. On their misses, a Cardinal was usually there to grab the rebound for a put-back shot or a chance to earn a trip to the foul line.

J-L finished with 31 rebounds in all.

"I had to tell them to slow down in the second quarter to get good looks by working the ball around, looking for the open guy and penetrating," Coach Huff said. "We missed shots but were outstanding on the offensive glass. We had put backs. Being a little bit bigger and stronger helps."

Despite the loss, St. Mary (2-3, 1-3 Ski Valley) often looked like it had for most of this season — a young team on the rise.

The Snowbirds started hot, grabbing a 3-0 lead in the first quarter following a close-range shot from Liam Beningo and a free throw from Adam Nowicki.

A slow-rolling jumper from Levi Milan put St. Mary ahead of J-L 5-4 shortly afterward, but back-to-back lay ins from Claeys gave the Cardinals an 8-5 edge.

Milan buried a 2-pointer to trim St. Mary's deficit to 13-10 before halftime. However, J-L used a seven-point run, which included an elbow jumper from Logan Huff to end the period.

"We held our own for a little bit, kept our composure and played tough until the end," St. Mary coach Ken Blust said. "At the same time, we went up against guys who were just crashing the boards. You have to play a complete game to really give them a run.

"There were times where we showed signs of improvement, but in the end, they beat us in transition, beat us on the glass and shot the lights out (after the first quarter)."

Although Claeys struggled early, he finished 8-for-10 from the floor and scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Brandon Huff had 10 points and seven rebounds while Tanner Shimel, recently moved up from the junior varsity, chipped in nine points and three assists.

"You have to give it to Troy and his group," Blust said. "This is four years of those seniors coming together, and we talked about that in our locker room.

"There's no banging your heads on this one because they're a team that's fast, tough and strong."

Carpenter played limited minutes while the team continued to build his endurance so he can rejoin the starting lineup later this season.

He finished with six points and pulled down three rebounds.

"I just powered through the pain," Carpenter said. "It's kind of hard (to play) because I'm not really in shape, and I've been to only one practice in the last two and a half weeks.

"But that didn't affect me after the adrenaline kicked in. Everything (fundamentally) is there still. I just need to get back into shape to hustle down the court."

Coach Huff said he hopes Carpenter returns to full strength before the team faces Bellaire for a Jan. 19 matchup, a game that will likely help determine which team wins the Ski Valley championship.

"We're still trying to get his legs back underneath him and get him back in his starting role," Coach Huff said. "I thought he looked pretty good tonight. He's tough on the boards when he's 6-foot-7.

"But we're preparing for Bellaire. It's going to be between us and them in the Ski Valley. We'll need him, and we also just need to keep working and doing the little things like boxing out and reducing the second attempts against other teams."

Milan led St. Mary with 19 points, including 12 in the final eight minutes while Josh Powers contributed 11 points (seven in the second half).

Also for the Snowbirds, Nowicki scored eight points, and Brady Hunter chipped in five.

"They came out and had a great mindset," Blust said. "They competed right off the bat, but it's tough to keep up with a team like that."

The Cardinals return to action Tuesday, Jan. 12 when they visit Central Lake for a Ski Valley game while the Snowbirds host Atlanta the same night for a non conference contest.

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Cardinals escape close call with Bulldogs, despite Huff's limited offense

By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

INDIAN RIVER — Not even the best game plan can keep Johannesburg-Lewiston's Logan Huff, the team's leading scorer, from impacting boys basketball games in clutch moments.

The senior shrugged off gnat-like defense played by Inland Lakes all game long to help the Cardinals defeat the host Bulldogs 44-42 in Ski Valley action Tuesday.

In the final minute, Huff received an inbounds pass and was immediately fouled. He hit both foul shots in the bonus to snap a 42-42 tie and ensure J-L (5-0, 3-0 Ski Valley) earned the victory.

"Inland Lakes played the box-and-one defense with (Inland Lakes senior Andrew Dufek) guarding over Logan," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "Logan didn't have any points in the first half, but he had eight in the second half with those two key free throws at the end of a tied ball game."

The Cardinals led Inland Lakes nearly the entire game but allowed the Bulldogs to tie the score 38-38 with 1:15 left.

However, J-L senior Nate Fox then hit a pair of foul shots and a 2-pointer that gave the Cardinals a 42-38 advantage.

The two teams played back and forth until Huff hit his clutch foul shots. Inland Lakes senior Mike O'Connor heaved a 3-pointer before the final buzzer, but the shot didn't fall.

"We pressured them on the shot," Coach Huff said.

Brandon Huff led J-L with 14 points while Fox finished with 10 points and two steals, and Logan Huff contributed two steals as well.

Tyson Claeys started in place of 6-foot-5 center Brent Carpenter, who hasn't practiced lately because of a bone bruise injury. Claeys scored seven points and had two steals.

"Brent Carpenter hasn't practiced since the Forest Area game (Dec. 17) with a bone bruise, so we tried to find a flow," Coach Huff said. "We started Tyson, and he played well.

"I'm absolutely proud of the team for how they did without Brent giving us quality minutes and not having a big (center) in there. He hasn't practiced in two and half weeks. We have to work him back in the offense."

O'Connor paced Inland Lakes with 15 points, and Dufek had 14.

The Cardinals visit St. Mary for a Ski Valley game Thursday, Jan. 7 before they visit Central Lake for a conference tilt Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Coach Huff said he was proud of his team, especially his seniors, for pulling out another crucial win Tuesday and knows that type of performance will be essential as Ski Valley play continues.

"Pulling out this win was huge, and they had poise," Coach Huff said. "It's the veteran leadership of the seniors like Nate, Brandon, Logan and (Orin Kierczynski) because they stayed calm and worked the ball around to find shots.

"Inland Lakes played tough."

Cardinals escape Inland Lakes

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Carpenter's career night inspires Cardinals in win over Warriors
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Troy Huff challenged boys basketball player Brent Carpenter to improve his offensive production following Tuesday's win at Mancelona.

The senior accepted that challenge head on Thursday, recording a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) and having a career night during the Cardinals' 91-45 win against visiting Forest Area.

Carpenter, who transferred to J-L from Mio last year, finished 7-for-10 from the floor and often scored with put backs off offensive rebounds.

"Brent Carpenter played absolutely outstanding tonight for me," Huff said. "He was a beast. He was a rebounding machine with put backs and a drop-step move. He played as well as I've seen him yet.

"I hope he keeps building off that."

Carpenter is in only his second year playing at the varsity level, but his 6-foot-5 body has developed tremendously over the past school year.

Huff knew Carpenter's size couldn't go to waste this season.

"I told him there is no reason he can't score at least 10 points before halftime every game," Huff said. "I told him he needs to be more active (offensively). He's too nice of a player not to have points by halftime.

"He really stepped it up tonight. After last game, he ended with only six or eight points. He asked for the ball tonight and had a super nice game."

J-L seniors Logan Huff and Brandon Huff each scored 25 points apiece. Logan Huff was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line while Brandon Huff finished 9-for-12 from the foul line and scored 12 points in the fourth.

Nathan Fox chipped in 10 points and eight assists.

The Cardinals (4-0, 2-0 Ski Valley) moved up Tanner Shimel from the junior varsity because McGwire Mathewson (personal reasons) missed the game. Shimel played most the second half, recording three points, four steals and three assists in his varsity debut.

Forest Area's Trevor Vance scored 17 points. Most of them came in the first half, as the Cardinals struggled on defense initially.

They had led only 22-14 after the first quarter, but they limited the Warriors to six points in the second.

"We had better help defense after the first quarter," Coach Huff said. "They set a lot of ball screens and shot the 3-ball well.

"In the second quarter, we were switching and getting better defense than we were in the first quarter. We played good help defense the rest of the game and limited their shots to outside shots and not let Vance penetrate."

With the win over Forest Area, J-L is off for the holiday break until it returns Tuesday, Jan. 5 to visit Inland Lakes for a conference game.

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Milestone Moment: Huff scores 1,000th point as Cardinals trounce Ironmen
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

MANCELONA — Cousins Logan Huff and Brandon Huff had talked last week about how close Logan was to scoring his 1,000th career point.

The two, both seniors for the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team, figured Logan would reach the milestone halfway through the season. But neither knew just how close Logan was to the career mark.

Logan needed only 22 points entering Tuesday's 67-27 win at Mancelona. With 4:01 left in the third quarter, he buried a turnaround jumper from eight feet to score his 1,000th point.

He had no idea what was going on when Mancelona's athletic department stopped the game to present him with the game ball and have him pose for pictures in front of a milestone banner personalized by fellow J-L students.

"I was kind of surprised, and I didn't think they'd stop the whole game for that, but it was pretty sweet," he said. "I felt like a model out there because everyone was watching me while I was taking pictures. It was a cool experience."

Shortly afterward, Logan checked out of the game for good and shared a special moment with his father, J-L coach Troy Huff, on the bench.

"I just told him he had a great game," Coach Huff said. "He's worked hard at it. He has played a lot of travel ball, worked hard and goes up on Sundays to shoot in the gym. He definitely works hard on his game. It comes natural for him, but he also puts a ton of time in the gym."

Coach Huff also said Logan's milestone was a tribute to not only the J-L basketball program but the other Cardinals on this year's team.

"It's nice to see that pay off for him as well as the team," Coach Huff said. "I told the team it's a nice tribute to you guys as well because you made him the type of player he is and have helped him get his 1,000 points.

"That's huge because there hasn't been anyone that's got 1,000 points at Joburg since 1994 (Sean Wolfington). It's been a lot of years, so hopefully I think we're turning our school around and back into a basketball school. A lot of people are recognizing that."

While the score might not indicate as much, Logan needed a strong effort to reach his milestone.

The Cardinals opened the game with a 22-0 run and had led Mancelona 24-2 entering the second quarter. Logan entered halftime with 15 points but had a few 3-pointers and close-range shots rim out because of fatigued legs from playing the entire half.

He rebounded immediately in the second half to reach the mark after scoring a pair of baskets and making one foul shot. He finished with 24 points, six steals and four assists.

After the game, he said the milestone was a dream come true.

"It's not something you think about every season," he said. "You're focused on winnings game, but it's pretty cool I finally got it.

"Ever since I was little, I kept looking at the board and thought I'd really like to have my name on that board. I finally reached it, so that's sweet."

The win improved J-L to 2-0 overall while Logan's teammates played just as well as he did.

Brandon Huff scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and had four steals while Nathan Fox chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and five steals. Tyson Claeys and Brent Carpenter each pulled down five rebounds, and McGwire Mathewson had four.

Each of them knew Logan was on the brink of reaching the milestone before the game. None of them let the secret out.

"That was really funny actually because I had no idea," Logan said. "I can't believe it didn't slip out of somebody's mouth that I was close to 1,000 points. It was cool the team was able to do that for me."

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Cardinals slow offense in road win against Wildcats
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

NORTHPORT — Patient offensive sets allowed the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys basketball team to cruise to a convincing non conference win Friday at Northport.

J-L senior Logan Huff scored 27 points, and senior Brandon Huff had 21, as the Cardinals downed the host Wildcats 64-42 to improve to 2-0.

"We reversed the ball to the weak side and penetrated to get good looks," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "We got some nice 8- to 10-foot jumpers, and they were really effective with penetration."

J-L's offense slowed down because of Northport's tough defense.

"They (Northport) wouldn't let us run transition ball," Coach Huff said. "They got back well and ran a good 2-3 zone defense.

"We got patient with it, but a lot of good things happened when we quit forcing passes."

The Cardinals led Northport 35-20 at halftime and extended their lead to 52-30 entering the fourth quarter.

"We blew it open when we were more patient and not trying to push it up the floor," Coach Huff said. "Before the half, we were up 20 points, but they got it down to 15.

"At halftime, we talked about reversing the ball and being patient. We penetrated into the paint to get those high-percentage shots."

Some of that penetration came from Logan Huff, who finished with eight assists while Brent Carpenter scored five points, Nate Fox had four and Mike Courterier chipped in three. McGwire Mathewson and Tyson Claeys each scored two points.

Fox finished with eight assists, despite playing with four fouls in the second half.

Defensively, Orin Kierczynski led the way for the Cardinals.

"Orin Played good pressure defense on one of their good shooters," Coach Huff said. "He limited Austin John to three 3s and 11 points. Last year, he had five 3s on us. He was a pretty good shooter last year."

Northport's Caleb Brown scored 11 points as well.

The Cardinals visit Mancelona for their Ski Valley opener Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Go Cardinals!

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Defensive Duo: Fox, Kierczynski limit Matelski in Cardinals' season-opener win over Loggers
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Since he joined the varsity as an eighth-grader, boys basketball teams have yet to stop Boyne Falls senior Marcus Matelski.

That streak continued in Tuesday's season opener, but that was OK because Johannesburg-Lewiston found a way to at least slow him down. The Cardinals defeated visiting Boyne Falls 48-41 in non conference play, relying on the defense of senior duo Nathan Fox and Orin Kierczynski to limit Matelski in the second half.

Matelski exploded early on, as he scored the first 20 points for Boyne Falls and recorded all but three of its points by halftime.

But Fox regrouped and continued to guard Matelski strong to open the third, and his effort worked to perfection. Fox limited Matelski to only four shots and two points in the third while Kierczynski guarded Boyne Falls point guard Andrew Campbell just as well, making every entry pass into Matelski a tough one.

After Matelski had poured in six points to open the fourth, Fox and Kierczynski battled back to limit Matelski to only four points in the final three minutes and force the Loggers into attempting tough, highly contested shots.

"The bottom line is that Nate played a phenomenal defensive game," J-L coach Troy Huff said. "Orin on Andrew Campbell, he stayed right with the game plan. Orin pressured Campbell, and we knew he was the one always feeding it back into Matelski."

The rest of the Cardinals played well defensively, too, as the Loggers shot just 17-for-48 from the field, including going 3-for-23 from outside.

"Everyone else helped, and our help defense has come up with a night and day difference since last year," Huff said. "It'll be tough to get it in the paint for high-percentage shots when you can't get in there."

And that's what J-L did to Boyne Falls. It forced Matelski into attempting well-guarded shots, both inside and outside. The future college player finished 14-for-27 with 32 points and nine rebounds.

"(Coach Huff) just said to guard him tight and do your best," Fox said. "He's going to make shots no matter, so he said just to try and limit him. Coach just said to keep doing what I'm doing (in the second half) because he'll start missing shots.

"It was definitely a challenge. He started out hot, and I kind of got nervous that he was going to have a big game. He's one heck of a player."

Offensively, the Cardinals played consistent without many low points.

J-L senior Logan Huff knocked down a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter to give the Cardinals a 15-13 lead in the first, and then he distributed the ball in the third to help his team garner their largest lead of the night, a 36-28 advantage entering the fourth.

He scored a team-high 19 points and had four rebounds and four assists while Fox scored 11 points, and Brent Carpenter grabbed six rebounds.

Brandon Huff, who Matelski guarded well all night, struggled in the first half in the post. He shot 1-for-5 entering halftime, but he put together a dominate performance in the second half and finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and drew several key fouls down low.

For the Loggers, Campbell recorded five rebounds and 11 assists — a number that included an assist on each of Matelski's first six baskets.

The Cardinals (1-0) hope to continue showcasing their defensive prowess when they visit Northport for a non conference game Friday, Dec. 11.

"This is a huge win in an opener against a phenomenal team," Coach Huff said. "It's huge and a good way to start the season.

"We can build off this, and I got to say the boys played very disciplined tonight. When you come off football season, you kind of wonder where their heads are going to be. But this is a regional final team we just beat. I thought our boys played phenomenal against an All-State player like Marcus."

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2015-16 VARSITY

Brandon Huff
Logan Huff
Nate Fox
Troy Boughner
Tanner Shimel
Max Roberts
McGwire Mathewson
Mike Courterier
Orin Kierczynski
Tyson Claeys
Brent Carpenter

Coach: Troy Huff
Assistant Coach: Frank Claeys
Sheldon Huff, Hayden Claeys, Logan Finnerty & Gavin Weaver

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Tyler Madej
Nick Mays
Caesen Campbell
Joe Bush
Kyle May
PJ Bucy
Timmy LaPointe
Patrick Kennedy
Leland Stephens

Coach: Doug Kussrow
Assistant Coach: Linc Campbell

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J-L Sporting Event Ticket Prices

Adults ~ $5.00
Students ~ $3.00
Family ~$12.00


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Updated 8/21/16