News Sports Editor
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Shane Hentkowski, left is defended by Sault’s Shakeel Ellis during the first half of a men’s basketball game Saturday at Park Arena. ACC defeated the Cougars 80-68 in overtime.
The Alpena Community College men's basketball team finally broke into the win column for the 2012-13 season on Saturday, but the Lumberjacks needed some extra time to do it.
Tied with Sault College 65-65 at the end of regulation, ACC dominated the Cougars in overtime to win 80-68 at Park Arena, snapping a five-game losing streak to open the season.
Earning that first win however, was anything but easy for the Lumberjacks (1-5).
With only a few seconds left in regulation, Sault's Kevin Ramos hit a game-tying three-pointer after an ACC defender fell down. This left Ramos wide open after a pass from teammate Ryan Rysdale to set his feet and sink the game-tying shot.
Ramos' shot might have given the Cougars momentum heading into overtime, but ACC controlled play from the outset, outscoring Sault 15-3 in the period.
"We played pretty hard and we got close. At the end of regulation, if my guy is just a little bit closer to the guy, he doesn't slip," ACC coach Frank McCourt said. "I got on them, but we didn't let that get us down. We came out in overtime and put it to them."
Mujahedn Mustafaa put ACC ahead 67-65 with the first overtime basket and the Lumberjacks never relinquished the lead. Mustafaa and Lavario Smith combined for 11 of ACC's overtime points and the Lumberjacks' defensive pressure caused two Cougar players to foul out of the game.
Smith led ACC with 20 points and Mustafaa added 13.
Trailing for a good portion of the first half and into the second half, the Lumberjacks steadily cut into Sault's lead and tied the game at 44 with 13:15 left in the game after buckets from Smith and Kharri Dailey.
The two sides traded the lead for the next several minutes before a three-pointer from Jason Ledgister and a basket from Shakeel Ellis put the Cougars ahead 58-51 with 4:30 to play.
William Gates Jr. pulled the Lumberjacks to within one after scoring the game's next seven points and ACC eventually took the lead thanks to some clutch free throw shooting. A free throw from Smith tied the game at 62 with 1:06 left and free throws from Dailey and Mustafaa put the Lumberjacks ahead.
ACC shot 22-for-33 from the charity stripe for the game and 9-for-11 over the last five minutes of regulation.
"We haven't been doing that," McCourt said of making free throws. "It's a team game. We've got some kids that had some issues and they're over the issues now and back in the game."
In the last 10 minutes of regulation, ACC had several players step up at crucial times to keep the game close. Logan Wickert scored six consecutive points for ACC midway through the second half with two of his baskets giving ACC the lead. A few minutes later it was Gates Jr., who pulled the Lumberjacks close and in overtime it was Mustafaa and Smith who took over.
Dailey and Gates Jr each added 10 points for the Lumberjacks and Wickert chipped in with 11.
Ledgister led the Cougars with 16 points, Danny MacDonald scored 10 and Ramos added nine.
ACC got off to a fast start to open the game, but eventually fell behind 22-15 midway through the way the half after buckets from MacDonald and Ledgister, who was effective at powering his way inside past ACC defenders. ACC cut Sault's lead to three with 7:40 to play and four with 4:51 to go, but couldn't pull close enough to take the lead. The Cougars eventually pulled ahead 32-23 with three minutes to play and took a 33-27 lead into the half.
McCourt told his team at the half that it had to decide whether to let the Cougars keep their lead and ACC responded with strong defense in the second half and a renewed energy on offense. Buckets from Smith and Dailey cut Sault's lead from 43-35 to 43-39 five minutes into the second half and a few minutes later, the pair did it again. After Smith scored on a nice move inside, he stole the ball on Sault's next possession and the ball made its way to Dailey who sank a shot to tie the game at 44.
McCourt was pleased with his team's defensive effort and hopes that it will continue Friday when ACC hosts Muskegon.
"Our strategy with them was if we pressed them for 40 minutes, we'd get them at the end and we did," McCourt said.
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ALPENA (80): Wickert 5 0-0 11; Berryman 3 0-2 6; Smith 8 4-5 20; Hentkowski 1 2-3 4; Dailey 3 4-4 10; Gates Jr. 4 1-3 10; Mustafaa 4 5-8 13; Lamp 0 3-4 3; Strong 0 3-4 3.
SAULT (68): Taylor 2 2-3 8; Rysdale 1 4-7 6; Ledgister 7 1-3 16; Afari 2 0-4 4; James 1 0-0 2; A. Brown 2 0-0 4; MacDonald 3 2-2 10; Ramos 3 1-3 9; D. Brown 0 0-2 0; Prince-Barnes 2 3-3 7; Ellis 1 0-0 2.