LAKEVILLE — With leading scorer Ethan Pike sitting out the game with family issues, Bremen’s offense struggled Friday night.
LaVille held the Lions to 11 of 33 from the field and their lowest points production of the season as the Lancers grabbed their first Northern State Conference win with a 45-27 defeat of the visiting Lions at Dale E. Cox Gymnasium.
“I thought Coach (Kevin) Stuckmeyer, Coach (Jack) Edison, my dad, did a really good job of preparing the guys and getting them ready. We scouted them and knew kind of some things that they were going to do, and I thought that those two did an excellent job of getting the guys prepared, ready for anything they threw at us offensively,” said LaVille head coach Michael Edison. “Secondly, they didn’t have their main offensive threat tonight, Pike. His grandpa’s not doing the best, so he was there with family issues. Not having your best offensive player hurts some, too.”
A fast start by LaVille generated a 17-9 lead at the first quarter break to put some distance between the Lancers (5-4, 1-1 NSC) and the Lions (4-4, 1-1 NSC) early. Bremen cut into the lead some at 25-18 at the half, but LaVille’s offense worked the ball and the clock in the second half to limit the Lions to just 15 shots after the break. The Lancers got in the bonus early, meanwhile, and held off the visitors with an 8-of-14 clip from the charity stripe, all in the fourth quarter.
“The difference in the ballgame was our mental approach to executing on the defensive end,” said Bremen head coach Ryan Eakins. “From the get-go, we give up 17 points in the first quarter, and we did everything we said we weren’t going to do for the last two days on the defensive end in the first quarter. You cannot play from behind against a team like LaVille. They run their stuff to perfection, and if you get behind and you’re playing catch-up then you worry about your legs from there on out. I credit Coach Edison and his staff; they did a phenomenal job of preparing and knowing how to beat us.”
Much of LaVille’s early lead came courtesy of Jordyn Williams, who went 4 for 5 from the field with three triples in the first half for all of his 11 points. The senior point guard converted 3 of 4 in the first quarter alone and took just one shot in the second frame before subbing out with two fouls early in the period.
“He’s an outstanding player. He’s an experienced guy. He’s played for four years, so he knows how to play the game,” said Eakins. “We were very aware that we wanted to keep him out of the lane, so our goal was to give him a step and to try to keep him in front of us. Then he knocked down a couple shots on us. Once he did, we were forced to go out on him, and once we did he got in the lane at will and created a lot of offense for them. It was part of how we approached the game in the first quarter on the defensive end, which led to us having to go out and give up penetration later.”
“He did a very good job. With about four or five minutes to go in the first half, he was sitting because he had two fouls, and I knew how valuable he was to us even in the second half when he doesn’t score, just his defense, handling the ball, just kind of getting guys where they need to go,” Edison said.
The Lancers were led in scoring by junior guard Andrew Hostetler, who knocked down a trio of 3s en route to a game-high 13 points following his 20-point outing in a win against NorthWood Tuesday. Hostetler also pulled down a team-co-leading four rebounds along with junior forward Nick Amor, who dished out a game-best four assists, while Justin Baker stuffed the stat sheet with four points, five steals, three assists and three rebounds, and junior reserve forward Jeff Haygood finished with six points in 24 minutes of floor time.
“That’s possibly double his total for the year,” said Edison of Haygood’s six points. “Some of those are just great passes from Nick Amor or Justin Baker. It’s a whole team effort, and I was just pleased with the way they played unselfishly and just took care of things.”
Just three days after putting four players in double figures against Bethany Christian, Bremen’s offense finished at 33 percent from the floor and was held to 17 points less than their previous low, a 44-41 double overtime win over Argos Dec. 13. The Lions were led by point guard Ben Hueni’s eight points and seven points from junior Jacob Box.
“Both those guys I thought did a nice job of attacking the basket,” said Eakins. “There were a lot of things that didn’t go our way tonight, but I was pleased with both their efforts. What we need to do now is to collectively look at how we can get better as a team. If anything, it is how we approach the game from a mental standpoint, especially when things aren’t going our way.”
The Lancers improve to 5-4 with their second straight win and 1-1 in the conference after a home loss to John Glenn in the two teams’ NSC opener Dec. 16. LaVille hosts Knox next Friday before opening Bi-County Tournament
play Tuesday, Jan. 17 with a rematch against the Falcons.
“We’ll play a very well-coached Knox team next Friday night here,” said Edison. “I’ll tell you, there aren’t too many coaches that I know of that do a better job of preparing their teams for opponents than Coach (Todd) Boldry does. So we have them coming up and then we head into Bi-County the week after. It doesn’t seem like it’s too easy playing Glenn again followed by either Glenn or Triton.”
Bremen slips to 4-4 and will also take a week off before hosting Glenn in a conference contest next Friday then opening Bi-County play at Argos Jan. 17.
“Next week is going to be another big one,” Eakins said. “This game’s over with; it’s done. LaVille’s a good team, and we will see them again. But right now we have to turn our focus to a very, very good Glenn team who beat LaVille on their floor. If we can execute in practice this next week and get better, the Glenn game could put us in position to where we control how we finish. There’s not going to be a team that’s going to go undefeated in this conference, so if we get better and bump them out this week, we’re still right in the hunt.”
• LaVILLE 45, BREMEN 27
Score by quarters
Bremen: 9 18 21 27
LaVille: 17 25 33 45
BREMEN (27): Ben Hueni 3 2-3 8, Jacob Box 3 0-0 7, Mitch Huppert 2 0-0 4, Austin Huff 1 1-2 3, T.J. Bayer 1 0-0 2, Dillon Mullen 1 0-0 2, Tim Zimmer 0 1-2 1, Wes Burkholder 0 0-0 0; Totals: 11 4-7 27.
LaVILLE (45): Andrew Hostetler 4 2-2 13, Jordyn Williams 4 0-2 11, Nick Amor 2 2-2 6, Jeff Haygood 2 2-5 6, Justin Baker 2 0-0 4, Blake Berger 1 0-1 3, Landon Manuel 0 1 2-2 2, Jason Duerring 0 0-0 0, Cameron Gurtner 0 0-0 0; Totals: 15 8-14 45.
3-point goals: Bremen 1 (Box), LaVille 7 (Hostetler 3, Williams 3, Berger); Turnovers: Bremen 13, LaVille 10; Rebounds: Bremen 18 (Box 5, Huppert 5), LaVille 19 (Hostetler 4, Amor 4); Steals: Bremen 1 (Hueni), LaVille 8 (Baker 5); Assists: Bremen 4 (Bayer 3), LaVille 11 (Amor 4); Fouls (fouled out): Bremen 16 (Zimmer, Huppert), LaVille 10 (none).
Records: Bremen 4-4 (1-1 NSC), LaVille 5-4 (1-1 NSC).
JV score: Bremen 41 (Don Browning 10), LaVille 29 ( Ryan Bettcher 9)