ALCONA-The Alcona boys basketball team (12-9) looks to win its fourth district championship in a row tonight at 7 p.m. against the Mio Thunderbolts, but need to change this year's results in head-to-head competition.
The Tigers have faced the Thunderbolts (20-2) twice this year and lost 59-28 and 55-36.
"The first time we played them it was early on in the season. The second time we were a little better, a little tighter," Alcona coach Jason Somers said. "We're going to pick up the intensity and go out there and perform our game plan without fail. We're not going to do anything special or new, but do what we can do and do it to its fullest."
The Tigers are going to need that kind of intensity against the Thunderbolts. Mio has breezed through most of its North Star League opponents and has suffered only two losses, both at the hands of Hillman.
Mio beat Whittemore-Prescott 71-50 in the first round of districts on Monday and Oscoda 71-32 on Wednesday.
A big part of Mio's success is centered around leading scorer Ben Lubitz, who finished the regular season averaging 22.3 points per game. The Thunderbolts also rely on Seth Thomey to create effective offensive and defensive plays.
Mio also utilizes a tough defensive press that disrupts its opponents game flow opportunities and capitalizes on sloppy play with steals, blocks and turnovers.
"With them, you can't make mistakes. If you make a mistake, it's two points down at the other end. We need to play a nice clean game and capitalize on their mistakes," Somers said.
The Tigers have their own ace in the hole in Trenton LaVergne, who averaged 23.7 points in the regular season and has the capability to score from almost anywhere on the floor.
His efforts recently earned him the boys "scoring champion" title from the Bay City Times.
LaVergne is a credible threat in the post, along the perimeter and a demanding presence under the hoop, but that doesn't mean the Tigers plan on riding just him to win a district title.
"Over the last couple of games, a real big guy for us has been Dawson (Forsythe). We always get a steady performance from Trenton and Carston (Jamieson), but you need those third guys and those fourth guys. In our case, that's been Dawson," Somers said. "Defensively, we're getting great minutes off Garrette Norling and Jason Steiner is doing a good job at point guard."
The Tigers improvement is obvious when comparing the three times it played Tawas this season. The first time, they lost 63-37. The next time, they lost 40-37. When they played Tawas on Monday in the first round of districts, they won 66-40.
Whether or not the Tigers have improved enough to beat the Thunderbolts may depend on which team is hungrier for the win.
"I think right now the big advantage I can see from my team is that we got three seniors that are absolutely hungry and aren't ready to put the balls away," Somers said. "They're part of two championship teams and they aren't ready to quit."
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.