2018-03-01 / Front Page

Sellouts possible for March Madness


GLEN LAKE players surround Kaitlyn Schaub after the junior center’s third-quarter buzzer-beater — an unconventionally delivered desperation layup — found nothing but net. The field goal gave Glen Lake an eight-point lead and helped the Lady Lakers escape Traverse City St. Francis with a 52-47 win. 
Photo: Jay Bushen GLEN LAKE players surround Kaitlyn Schaub after the junior center’s third-quarter buzzer-beater — an unconventionally delivered desperation layup — found nothing but net. The field goal gave Glen Lake an eight-point lead and helped the Lady Lakers escape Traverse City St. Francis with a 52-47 win. Photo: Jay Bushen Anything can happen in March.

So get there early, as gymnasiums may just sell out for district basketball games.

As to the upsets that encapsulate March Madness, just ask Suttons Bay boys basketball coach Ron Anderson. In 2017 he helped guide a 10-10 team entering district play to the regional finals.

“It’s a different atmosphere and a different mindset,” Anderson said. “You don’t get a second chance in the playoffs. You lose and you’re out.”

The Norsemen will look to duplicate their 2017 success Monday starting with a matchup Monday against Lake Leeanau St. Mary in the District 117 quarterfinals. Suttons Bay will be one of two district tournament hosts in the county next week; Glen Lake is the other.

The Lakers, who can clinch a three-way share of the Northwest Conference title tonight with a win at Mesick, will open districts Wednesday with a mammoth matchup against Manton. The Lakers and Rangers checked into the AP Poll this week as the No. 7 and No. 9 teams in Class C, respectively.

“This is why we do it, for March,” third-year Glen Lake coach Rich Ruelas said after a win at No. 8 McBain on Tuesday. “To me it’s the most exciting time of year. The temperature’s rising and everything you work for all season is on full display. It’s just exciting. Anything can happen.”

The Glen Lake girls were Leelanau County’s Cinderella team last year, advancing past top-ranked St. Francis en route to an appearance in the state semifinals at the Breslin Center.

The No. 10 Lakers are at it again this season, tipping district tournament action off on Monday with a 52-47 district semifinal win at St. Francis. Glen Lake was slated to play Manton for the district title after press time last night.

As one might expect, enthusiasm is high in Maple City. Glen Lake sold out three games in the regular season, including two on back-to-back nights late last month — a girls game against Kingsley and a boys game against Frankfort.

“It has truly been amazing to see the level of support our student body and community has been providing our basketball teams this season,” said Jen Johnston, Glen Lake’s athletic director.”

“Without question, the enthusiasm, cheering and noise has helped guide our teams to victories,” said Johnston. “Our cheerleading team and ‘The Crew’ student section have done a great job and I’m so proud of their leadership and enthusiasm.”

Enthusiasm is also high at Frankfort this week as the Lady Panthers host Lake Leelanau St. Mary, Leland and North Bay in the District 117 tournament. All four teams were in action after press time last night.

St. Mary coach Pete Finch said the postseason is no time to shake things up. “You dance with who brung ya’ in March,” he said.

The 14-2 Lady Eagles are among county teams primed for a playoff push, but Finch isn’t talking state championship just yet.

And for good reason. County teams have won eight state basketball titles — the most of any sport in county history — but championships have proven elusive as of late. The last team to win a state championship was the 1988 Northport boys.

Northport coach Dan Stowe, whose last-second shot made him a hero of the ‘88 Class D title game, says the quality of play hasn’t diminished despite the three-decade drought.

“The county has in my opinion an unusual amount of talent this year,” Stowe said. “You can go to any community and find a high-quality game almost any night. What I’ve always found most intriguing about March is everybody gets to start 0-0, and every year we see those upsets.”

Flip to page 10 for more district coverage.

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