2016-12-22 / Sports

Peterson puts stop to peninsula’s dunk drought

Oversized point guard throws it down four times in first three games
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

POINT GUARD Cade Peterson threw down four dunks for Glen Lake in December — four more than the total produced by all Leelanau County players in the 2015-16 season. POINT GUARD Cade Peterson threw down four dunks for Glen Lake in December — four more than the total produced by all Leelanau County players in the 2015-16 season. Leelanau County’s prototypical basketball players are best known for their blue-collar approach to defense, savvy 3-point shooting ability and high basketball IQ — not rim-rattling dunks.

That said, basketball fans have been pretty spoiled with the latter in the past decade. Dwaun Anderson, most notably, brought the dunk back to Suttons Bay from 2007- 11 before slamming his way into SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at Wagner College. Anderson then passed the peninsula’s proverbial torch to Jacob Brown, a 6-foot-9 center who rocked the rim with regularity in Northport from 2011-15.

“A dunk is worth more than two points in these parts,” said former Northport coach Chris McCann, who watched Brown throw it down 23 times as a senior. “You could just see how it would deflate other teams. It was just another level of intimidation, knowing there was potential to get dunked on.”

The Leelanau County dunk tank dried up in 2015-16, however, much to the dismay of fans across the peninsula.

More than 100 boys basketball games were played last year without a single dunk from a county player.

Enter a 6-foot-5 transfer from Lake City, point guard Cade Peterson, who came into the 2016-17 campaign less than two weeks removed from a terrific season on the gridiron for Glen Lake. The quarterback tossed 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions, landing all-state honors.

Peterson proceeded to prove his multi-sport merit in his Glen Lake basketball debut on Dec. 6, pouring in a game-high 23 points as the Lakers took down Traverse City St. Francis by 13.

Then, one week later during a 62-point road thumping of Mesick, he took his star status to the next level: He ended the local jam shortage with three dunks on consecutive possessions.

And the ridunkulousness didn’t stop there. Peterson took it one step further last Thursday during Glen Lake’s home opener against Leland, a 79-41 win.

“It caught me off guard,” Leland coach Jon Kiessel said. “I turned my head because I could see it coming. Pretty darn impressive.”

Peterson caught a defender napping with a back-door cut and stormed the baseline from the right wing.

Fellow backcourt standout Xander Okerlund saw it the whole way and put a pass from the left wing on the money.

“Coach said we were going to run that right after halftime,” Okerlund said. “I threw it up right by the rim and he did the rest.”

Peterson hammered the alley-oop home with two hands, lifting the student section up off the bleachers in a hurry. Not bad for a guy who’s been dunking cleanly for less than a year.

Through three games, Peterson has provided a big offensive spark to a Glen Lake team that scored just 52 points per game a year ago — and it’s not just dunks. He is currently tied with Okerlund for the team lead in scoring with 17 points per game. The team, meanwhile, is averaging 75.

Second-year coach Rich Ruelas said Peterson’s role in the Glen Lake lineup isn’t what it was in Lake City.

“He had a lot of pressure to do a lot of different things for his team,” Ruelas said. “He had to be the leading rebounder, leading scorer — he had to do that for those guys to be successful. The nice thing, which we just talked about today, is he doesn’t have to do that with us. The pressure’s off of him. He’s having a ton of fun and he knows that he has a valuable role on our team, but he doesn’t have to do everything.”

The roster is lined with returning talent and every role player a coach could ask for, from rebounders to shut-down defensive players. Peterson will likely share the spotlight all season.

In fact, he wasn’t even the top-scoring “Peterson” on the team against Leland last Thursday. Younger brother Drew Peterson scored 10, outpacing his big brother by a point. Six other Lakers scored seven or more points, including Okerlund, who had 19.

“Anybody on our team has the ability to start, score and play defense,” Cade Peterson said. “On some teams, you got guys that just stay on the bench. That’s their role.

“We don’t have any of them. Every single person on our team is able to play, and that’s what makes our practices so competitive. Practices are like games and that’s going to help us, especially come March.”

Peterson will wear many hats for the up-and-coming Lakers in 2017 but, to casual basketball fans, he’ll fill the much-needed role of Leelanau County’s designated dunker.

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