NEGAUNEE - Many basketball teams go as far as their best scorer can carry them.
Among area high school boys teams, Kenya Oas of Munising, Zach French of Westwood and Mark Pap of Marquette often fill that role.
But it?s not something that Negaunee has to rely on, at least not when the Miners are playing their best like they did in throttling visiting Manistique 73-44 on Tuesday to improve to 5-1.
Manistique junior Zack Lambert works against Negaunee senior Derek Hicks in Negaunee Tuesday. (Marquette Mining Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Mike Nagy (Marquette Mining Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"I was really happy with how we shared the ball out there today," NHS coach Mike O'Donnell said about the rare afternoon game.
He explained that the Miners had few scorers in their only loss, 40-35 at Munising on Dec. 9.
"We only had three people score in that game," he said, though a check of the box score actually showed a fourth player scoring a single point. "We're better when we have multiple options.
"Ever since that game, we've had at least three guys score in double figures, even four, and I think there were five when we played Gwinn."
On Tuesday, eight Miners got on the board with three reaching double figures, sophomore Tyler Jandron with 23 points, junior Tanner Uren with 16 and senior Tyler Beaumont with 14.
"We were fortunate enough to knock down enough shots and our defensive pressure worked well for us," O'Donnell said. ?We forced turnovers and had some transition baskets."
After building its lead to 44-21 at halftime, the Miners (2-0 in the Mid-Peninsula Conference) even had time to audition a new point guard, 6-foot-6 senior Brock Weaver.
While he started Tuesday as he usually does at center and big forward, O'Donnell put him back in the game with the second unit during the fourth quarter.
During that time, Weaver, who transferred from Kingsford during the past year, took over a central pivot position on the perimeter when his team had the ball, and made several nifty steals while on defense.
A play he made with about three minutes to go got the crowd roaring. After he stripped the ball from a Manistique player, Weaver went into a dead run and brought the ball behind his back to keep that player from swiping it back. He dribbled for another half-dozen steps before firing a pass to senior teammate Kevin Price for an easy layup.
"I used to always play point guard until I was a freshman," Weaver said, adding that he's always been one of the tallest players on his teams.
"We have some talented players and I don't mind the fancy moves as long as they're using them to the disadvantage of (our opponents') defense, not to showboat," O'Donnell said.
"Brock, he breaks out his ball handling moves sometimes in practice, so I had an idea what he could do."
Jandron and senior guard Zach Marshall also showed off some fancy moves Tuesday, some that got their team out of sticky predicaments, though occasionally there were flubs, too.
Manistique coach Ed Marietti gave credit to all the talent the Miners have, but was still disappointed with Tuesday's result as the Emeralds slipped to 1-5 and 0-5.
"It's been that way all year," he said. "They outhustled us and out-quicked us. We?re not a 1-5 team, but if we keep playing this way we?re not going to improve."
Negaunee employed its new-wrinkle full-court press during much of the game and forced more bad passes out of Manistique than actual steals. The effect was about the same, however.
"We're athletic enough to stay in every game," Marietti said. "Today, we had 25 turnovers. The guys like Jandron and Marshall had some steals, but we've seen this pressure all year. It's a matter of getting everybody on the same page."
Jandron pumped in nine points in the first quarter as Negaunee raced to leads of 6-0 and 16-2 before Manistique reeled off nine straight points late in the period to make it 18-13. The Emeralds made baskets from inside and out in that stretch, but it wouldn?t last.
Jandron's rushed, off-balance 3-pointer at the top of the key just before the first-quarter buzzer started a 14-3 run that firmly established the Miners' double-digit lead that grew to as many as 35 points in the second half.
Junior guard Zack Lambert led the Emeralds with 15 points, while junior swingman Kenner Broullire added 10 points and eight rebounds. Senior forward Jake Syers also pulled down eight rebounds while scoring six points.
Negaunee also won the JV game, 52-43.
Manistique 13 8 13 10 - 44
Negaunee 21 23 14 15 - 73
Manistique - Nagy 2; Lambert 15; Syers 6; Selling 5; Broullire 10; Tiglas 6. FT: 4-10.
Negaunee - Weaver 6; Beaumont 14; Price 4; Jandron 23; Uren 16; Marshall 7; Hicks 2; Martin 1. FT: 11-20.