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Carney-Nadeau Wolves get early jump to defeat Ewen-Trout Creek in Class D boys basketball regional semifinal

Carney-Nadeau’s Beau Koffman, right, is pursued by Ewen-Trout Creek’s Eli Nordine during a Class D regional semifinal game played Monday night at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

NEGAUNEE — The Carney-Nadeau boys basketball team knew going into Monday night’s Class D regional semifinal game that it would have a tough task on its hands in guarding Ewen-Trout Creek’s Jake Witt.

But in some ways, the Wolves used that to their advantage.

C-N broke out to a big lead early and forced the Panthers to not only play catchup the rest of the way, but also rely almost entirely on Witt for offenses the entire game.

With E-TC becoming one-dimensional, the Wolves eventually built an advantage that was too much to overcome and prevailed 51-45.

Preston Lauscher led C-N with 17 points, while Jason Kirschner had 13 and Brett LaFord 10.

Witt led all scorers with 27 points.

E-TC put together a 12-0 run early in the fourth quarter to cut its deficit to four points with 2:37 left, but Kirschner made a nice layup around Witt and Jacob Kleiman hit two free throws with 23 seconds left to ice the game for the Wolves.

“I thought we were passive,” C-N head coach Jacob Polfus said. “We told them to be selective, but not sideways, and we wanted them to still attack.

“I told them after the game that part of that was coaching and it wasn’t good to say the word ‘passive’ because once you hear ‘passive,’ you do everything sideways.

“But we hung on and got the win and I thought we played excellent basketball in the first three quarters.”

C-N took control early and closed out the first quarter with three straight baskets, including a buzzer-beating triple from Kleiman to go up 18-6.

In the second, Kirschner hit a trey and a putback to give the Wolves a 27-11 advantage. Witt tried to rally the Panthers on his own, but E-TC still trailed 33-21 at the half. Witt had 16 points at the break.

“We just couldn’t get anything offensively with their pressure in the first half, which kind of set us on our heels,” E-TC head coach Brad Besonen said. “I think we carried that to our defensive end and were still playing on our heels there.

“Our talk at halftime was let’s start being the anticipators that we were all year. I think we did a little better job of it in the second half, but when we really started to take off was at the six-minute mark (to go) of the fourth (quarter).”

The Wolves continued to keep their double-digit advantage in the third quarter and another buzzer-beater, this time from Lauscher, gave them a 43-27 lead heading into the fourth.

In the final period, Witt finally started to get some support. Eli Nordine hit a trey and followed that with two layups off of C-N turnovers to help whittle the Wolves’ lead to eight. However, the Panthers couldn’t get any closer than four as their season came to an end.

C-N plays Dollar Bay in the regional final at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Negaunee.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.