2017-01-05 / Sports

Okerlund’s 26 leads Glen Lake past Elk Rapids

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


GLEN LAKE sophomore shooting guard Xander Okerlund poured in a career-high 26 points on Tuesday in the team’s 11-point win at Elk Rapids. GLEN LAKE sophomore shooting guard Xander Okerlund poured in a career-high 26 points on Tuesday in the team’s 11-point win at Elk Rapids. Xander Okerlund started the new year off with a bang on Tuesday.

Okerlund poured in a career-high 26 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and three steals as the Glen Lake boys opened the 2017 portion of their season with a 61-50 win at previously unbeaten Elk Rapids.

“I just think his effort was outstanding,” Glen Lake coach Rich Ruelas said of Okerlund, a shooting guard. “He got up the floor on fast breaks and made extra passes on offense. They knew who he was and they needed to guard him, but when they didn’t he made them pay. They overplayed him quite a bit and he did a nice job of making backdoor cuts and getting some good looks. It was a great effort.”

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the 6-foot-4 sophomore’s star status had been somewhat hidden in an offense known for spreading the ball around.

Okerlund put up 10 points per game as a freshman, reaching double figures on 11 occasions without a single 20-point performance.

He’s now broken the 20-point plateau twice in four games this winter and ranks second among all county scorers with 19.3 points per game.

More importantly, the Lakers (4-0, 2-0 Northwest) are still perfect.

“They were tough,” Okerlund said of the Elks, who ended their 2015-16 campaign with a 62-39 district semifinal loss to Glen Lake. “They could shoot pretty good and they were a pretty good defensive team — I think we just wanted it more.”

Okerlund’s backcourt mate, junior point guard Cade Peterson, added 17 points in the victory. Max Lerchen chipped in with eight points.

Ruelas said the Lakers, who led 35-29 at halftime, found ways to counter every Elk Rapids comeback attempt in the fourth quarter.

“We knew we’d get a good team,” he said. “They started making a push at the end but they would make and a shot and we’d answer.”

Glen Lake returns home tonight for a cross-county matchup with Suttons Bay (2-3, 0-2 Northwest).

The teams split the 2015-16 series as the Lakers won 53-49 at home and lost 52-43 in Suttons Bay.

“It’s huge,” said Okerlund, who averaged 12.5 points against the Norse as a freshman. “We want to beat them on our home floor, get that momentum and not look back.”

The Lakers will then play at Onekama Tuesday before a mammoth matchup at Buckley next Thursday.

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