Enthusiastic student sections, “basketball junkies,” and two of the area’s best basketball teams met in the crowded Croswell-Lexington High School gym last night as the Pioneers hosted Port Huron Northern.
It was a boys basketball matchup Northern head coach Brian Jamison said had been in the works for a a couple of years, and when it finally happened, people took notice.
Not only were the stands packed with blue and white and navy and gold, but also a bit of orange and red as other local coaches and players from teams like Armada, Port Huron, and St .Clair made their appearance.
“It’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of basketball junkies in the area,” Northern senior Tyler Jamison said. “This area’s very underrated in how many true basketball fans we have who just travel around and go to good basketball games. It’s exciting that we were the one that they circled for today.
“There were a lot coaches here, I like to think they came to watch us, but they’re probably scouting,” he joked.
The two teams did not disappoint. Tyler Jamison, the all-time leading scorer for Northern, began the game with a two-handed dunk. But Cros-Lex senior Trey Kolakovich, tasked with slowing down the Husky, responded with a 3-pointer. He also managed to hold Jamison to just six points from the floor in the first half.
And that is how much of the game would go: back-and-forth, narrow leads, and big runs.
Cros-Lex led 11-10 after the first and Northern led 29-27 at the half, but it was the Huskies’ 6-0 run to close the third to lead 50-43 that secured their final 60-56 victory.
“I think that really was the difference in the game,” Brian Jamison said. “But they answered and went right back.”
Cros-Lex inched within one at 50-49 to start the fourth quarter, but Northern freshman Alex Jamison soon made a three to slow the Pioneers down. The Huskies found themselves on another run, leading 56-49 with 3:53 to go.
“We coud just never get over the hump and put them in a position where they had to play from behind,” Cros-Lex head coach Lance Campbell said. “That was a great game…I truly believe that we’re still a great basketball team and we can continue to get better because of games like tonight.”
Kolakovich and fellow senior Zachary Kroetsch led the Pioneers with an impressive performance from the 3-point line. Kolakovich had 23 points with five triples and Kroestch had 21 and four threes, combining for 44 of the 56 Cros-Lex points.
“Trey and Zach, that duo is clicking,” Campbell said.
Of course, having two players score two-thirds of the team's points leaves the Pioneers with the task of developing more scoring threats, but with experienced seniors like Mitchell Geiger, Donovan McDonald, and Trevor Soule, and even a new-to-the-team senior like Drew Hosterman, Campbell said he's confident they'll step up.
"We’ve got to identify a third and fourth option. Moving forward people are really going to be focused on taking [Kolakovich and Kroestch] away. I think they just play well off of each other," Campbell said. "I thought [Hosterman] played with great confidence, he's a pest defense. He did a lot of great things tonight."
As for the Huskies, Tyler Jamison led them to victory with 29 points, including an 11-for-15 performance from the free-throw line.
“Obviously they’ve got Tyler who’s an incredible player,” Campbell said. “I thought we did some things to neutralize him. We made him earn everything he got.”
Alex Jamison added 12 points, Amir Morelan had seven, and senior Luke Maher chipped in with six. Freshman Cam Harju also managed seven rebounds, rounding out a respectable effort for the three Northern freshmen.
“I was happy with all three of them for their first true road game,” Brian Jamison said. “And then being freshmen just adds to all the extra pressure, but I thought they handled it well.”
Cros-Lex, now 3-2 (1-0 BWAC), will host Port Huron next on Dec. 21 before returning to league play on Jan. 5 on the road against Yale.
Next on the schedule for the Huskies (3-0) is the Motor City Roundball Classic where they’ll take on Ann Arbor Skyline Dec. 28. They’ll open conference play within the MAC-White against Warren Mott at home on Jan. 6.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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