Boys basketball: Hornets set sights on regional championship, history
Pellston seeking first trip to state quarterfinals in 68 years
Pellston junior Dale Stark puts the ball on the floor and drives to the basket during a 60-51 victory over Bellaire earlier this season. Starke and his teammates will attempt to win the first boys basketball regional championship in 68 years tonight at Gaylord High School. (News-Review file photo)
Meanwhile, Pellston erased 47 years of its own frustration the same night.
Today, Wednesday, Pellston will face Posen at 7 p.m. in a Class D regional championship game at Gaylord High School.
Pellston is 22-1 and ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Class D state poll, while Posen is 21-3 and an honorable mention in the AP poll.
Pellston, which on Monday rolled past Rogers City, 80-45, for its first win in the regional tournament since 1965, is eyeing its first regional championship since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office (1944), and when gas prices were at 21 cents a gallon.
“We talked about that at practice,” Pellston coach Cliff Hass said Tuesday. “We know we have a chance to make history and the kids are excited.
“It really comes down to us playing good, hard aggressive defense. You can’t control your missed shots, but we can really control things on the defensive end and that’s really what’s got us here.”
The Hornets have yet to be tested through three tournament games, winning by an average of 44-plus points.
Pellston is led by 6-foot-4 senior guard and Bucknell signee Christopher Hass, who’s averaging 31.2 points a game and through Monday has 2,462 career points, which ties him for fifth all-time in the Michigan High School Athletic Association record book with former Wyoming Park star and Michigan State standout Drew Neitzel.
Senior forward Andy Hamlin, who has scored more than 1,000 points in his career, is another Hornet key, along with senior Max Ketterer and junior Jake Friedenstab.
Senior guard Zak Kruskie will not play tonight after suffering a strained Achilles during Monday’s win.
“It’s unfortunate because he’s the most consistent player we have,” coach Hass said. “We’ll have to have some other kids pick things up and I know it hurts Zak to not be able to play, being a senior, but I know he’ll be our biggest supporter and he’s a big part of our team.”
Jerome Ciarkowski had 23 points for Posen in its semifinal win over Cedarville Monday, while David Kerr added 20, and Tyler Kuffel had 15. All three are seniors. The Vikings fell to Cedarville in the regional final last year, 64-62.
“They pass the ball very well,” Hass said. “They are very fundamentally sound and the whole group was solid.
“You look for weaknesses and they really don’t have very many. They’re just a very good team, very well coached and very self disciplined.”
Tonight’s winner advances to a Class D state quarterfinal against either Munising, 21-2, or Carney-Nadeau, 20-2, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Sault Ste. Marie High School.