by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
There was a battle of two undefeated basketball teams last Friday in Rogers City. The host Hurons welcomed rival Onaway.
Rogers City had won its first three games, while Onaway had won their season-opener two nights before in convincing fashion. It was a 3-0 team versus a 1-0 team, but the fact that it was Rogers City vs. Onaway, made it a premiere match up in boys’ basketball.
And when the final buzzer sounded, Onaway proved they are one of the better teams in northern Michigan at this juncture of the season as they took a 66-49 win.
Onaway built a 19-point third-quarter lead before Rogers City went on a 13-0 run to get within five when Onaway put the game away in the final five minutes with a 16-4 run.
“We had been waiting for this game for a while,” said Onaway coach Eddy Szymoniak. “Every time you come to Rogers City, you expect a good game.”
The Cards have won the last eight against the Hurons.
“At some point, it will probably turn,” said Szymoniak. “Rogers City, obviously is a little better, and they battled tonight.”
Huron coach Jesse Streich said Onaway had the upper hand.
“You can’t win a basketball game when you only play about 14 minutes,” said Streich. “It’s a 32-minute game. We laid an egg in the second, but we fought hard in the third quarter. I don’t know if we extended too much energy coming back. Give them credit, they beat us.”
Late in the first quarter, the teams played even until Onaway went on a 9-2 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Brad Brewbaker at the buzzer. The play was set up by a cross-court pass by Jonathan Bay. Brewbaker was wide open.
Huron Jacob Hein opened the second with a basket, which was followed by a 3-point play from Cardinal Keaton Brewer. Huron Chris Tulgestka scored to get it back to seven, 29-22, before Onaway closed out the second with a 9-0 run, including 3-pointers from Joe Sigsby and Morgan McLean. The halftime score was 38-22.
McLean hit two more threes in the third to help give Onaway a 19-point advantage, 45-26.
Rogers City came back with layups from Brendan Koss, Hein, as well as a layup and a trey from Matthew Altman. That almost cut it in half at 45-35.
The Hurons kept it going with a jumper from Caleb Karsten, which got the Rogers City fans into the game first time. Koss’ rebound put back made it a 13-0 run that ended on a baseline drive from Brewbaker.
Altman’s free throws with 5:02 remaining made it 50-45. The Hurons had climbed all the way back to make it a ball game again.
Szymoniak called a timeout to give his club a breathier and to remind them to get back to playing basketball.
“It was our second game,” said Szymoniak. “(Rogers City) was in a little bit better shape, I guess that’s my fault.”
Following the time out, Cardinal Cortez Washington scored on three consecutive plays. The last two were on steals and layups. His teammate Derick Wregglesworth made one-of-two from the free-throw line and then a field goal on a nice assist from Sigsby. In moments, Onaway had turned the game back in their favor with a 59-45 lead.
Szymoniak liked the way his team battled back and won it. “To come over here, in front of a big crowd, a team can fold pretty quick,” he said. “ If we can play like this, like they did the first half, we know what our potential is, I think it is going to be tough for other teams to keep up with us.”
Brewbaker had a game-high 19 points, while Sigsby and Washington had 11 apiece. Eight of Washington’s points came in the fourth quarter.
Koss had 14 for the orange and black.
Onaway won its season opener over Ellsworth, 66-22. Sigsby led the scoring attack with 22, while Washington had 11, all in the second quarter.
The Rogers City junior varsity improved to 4-0 with a win over Onaway, 68-53.
Luke Tulgestke had 25, while Phil Grambau put in 16. Ethan Hincka rounded out the scoring with eight.
For Onaway, Trevor Wregglesworth had 21 and Cody Neelis had 18.