2017-03-23 / Sports

Bears stymie Norse, capture regional title

Buckley stays perfect, wins region for first time in 7 years
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


BUCKLEY PLAYERS Denver Cade (21), Brock Beeman (24) and Joey Weber (5) converge on Suttons Bay senior Justin McSawby in the first half of last Wednesday’s regional final in Traverse City. BUCKLEY PLAYERS Denver Cade (21), Brock Beeman (24) and Joey Weber (5) converge on Suttons Bay senior Justin McSawby in the first half of last Wednesday’s regional final in Traverse City. Suttons Bay fans were on their feet as Thomas Hursey took two dribbles to his right, found a gap between two Buckley defenders, beat the first-half buzzer with a 37-foot fadeaway—and found nothing but net.

From there, however, Hursey found little other than air-tight defense from Buckley sophomore Ridge Beeman.

Beeman and his Buckley teammates held Hursey to a season-low three points inside a packed Traverse City Central gym last Wednesday as the unbeaten Bears stifled Suttons Bay’s high-scoring offense and secured their first regional title since 2010, 56-37.

“Ridge has been phenomenal all year,” Buckley coach Blair Moss said of Beeman. “He’s taken the best player, from any team, and he’s up to the task. I challenged him and said, ‘You’ve got to smother him. If he goes to the bathroom, you go with him. I don’t care where he goes, you go with him.’”


SUTTONS BAY received a big boost from its student section throughout its district and regional tournament runs—and last Wednesday’s regional final against Buckley in Traverse City was no exception. The front end of “Norse Nation” is pictured during a stoppage of play in the third quarter. SUTTONS BAY received a big boost from its student section throughout its district and regional tournament runs—and last Wednesday’s regional final against Buckley in Traverse City was no exception. The front end of “Norse Nation” is pictured during a stoppage of play in the third quarter. Hursey, who came into the contest averaging 16.5 points per game, struggled to get anything going after picking up his second foul in the first quarter.

He took just four shots in the loss.

With its top scorer neutralized, Suttons Bay’s offense sputtered. The 36-point output was more than 20 points below the team’s average.

“They really defended him well and were really aggressive,” coach Ron Anderson said of the Bears. “They went to a box-and-one, and we tried to get him free, but they just locked him down. Their defense was excellent.”


SUTTONS BAY seniors Evan Busby (3) and Jack Pasche (1) make their way off the court following the team’s 56-37 loss to Buckley in the Region 30 final in Traverse City last Wednesday. SUTTONS BAY seniors Evan Busby (3) and Jack Pasche (1) make their way off the court following the team’s 56-37 loss to Buckley in the Region 30 final in Traverse City last Wednesday. Their offense wasn’t bad, either.

Denver Cade and the Bears seemed to have an answer for every Suttons Bay bucket, and the prompt replies often came from beyond the arc.

Buckley shooters buried nine 3s.

“We knew they’d come out in a zone,” said Cade, who poured in 13 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. “At first, we couldn’t knock down some of our shots but we tweaked a few things at halftime and, from there, it was all confidence.”

The Bears, who led 13-6 after eight minutes and 21-16 at the half, came out firing in the third quarter. A 3 from Joey Weber and a two from Cade quickly stretched the Buckley lead to 10.

Suttons Bay didn’t go down easy, however. Triples from senior guards Evan Busby and Justin McSawby helped the Norsemen open up an 8-0 run, trimming the Buckley lead to four.

Buckley responded in a hurry.

Austin Harris found a hole in Suttons Bay’s zone and knocked down a pair of 3s as the Bears rallied off a 9-0 run and took control of the game for good.

The Bears were dialed in on defense, dangerous from beyond the arc and dominant on the glass. Suttons Bay finished with just 20 rebounds.

“They’re aggressive,” Anderson said. “They play hard and they rebound well. When you get in a situation like this, every little push isn’t going to get called. You’ve got to toughen up, be strong and rebound. To me, that’s the difference in the game.”

Harris, who had 16 points, were the only players from either team in double figures. Evan Busby led Suttons Bay with nine points and six assists. Kaleb Grant, Christian Holmes and Garrett Shananaquet added six points apiece.

Anderson said he was proud of his team—which won its district and finished 14-11 after a 10-10 showing in the regular season—despite the loss.

“They came together at the end of the year,” Anderson said. “I told them it’s really hard to beat three top-10 teams in a row. No one expected us to be here because of our record, but I knew at the beginning of the year that if we had everyone, we’d be a pretty darn good team, and we were.”

Suttons Bay, like district champion Glen Lake, will have its hands full chasing Buckley in league play next season. The Bears are slated to bring back 12 of 14 players from their postseason roster, including all five starters.

The Norse, meanwhile, will be tasked with replacing three starters and five seniors: Busby, Holmes, McSawby, Jack Pasche, and Brett Rice.

Rice said he expects big things from Hursey and his teammates in 2017-18.

“Our record doesn’t show how good we were this year,” Rice said. “We had a rough season and some stupid stuff happened, but we really pulled together as a team and made a run. ... They’re going to have a really good team next year. It’s going to be really exciting to watch them play.”

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