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Experience in battle: Senior-laden Negaunee Miners boys basketball team takes it to young Gwinn Modeltowners, 68-34

Negaunee’s Drew Lindberg, right, takes takes on Gwinn defender Jacob Harnick during their high school boys basketball game played Thursday at Gwinn High School. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

“It’s the most experienced team I’ll ever coach and that experience showed.” — Dan Waterman, head coach, Negaunee boys basketball

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GWINN — Experience will win out in high school basketball games seemingly 99 percent of the time.

The Negaunee boys basketball team showed its experience on Thursday night, topping Gwinn 68-34 behind a combined 57-point performance from six of its eight seniors.

Jason Waterman led that group with 16 points while Drew Lindberg and Drew DuShane each followed with 13.

The Miners are 2-0 in the first week of the season as head coach Dan Waterman was pleased with how his team responded after taking an early timeout with the game tied at 4-4.

“It was just a quick mistake defensively that I wanted to get squared away,” he said. “I thought we picked it up after that. The kids did a nice job executing offensively and I think our pressure bothered them a little bit.

“I thought we played well together and I thought we shared the ball well together. It was a pretty good performance in the first half from our kids.”

Waterman added that his team’s experience certainly made things look easy on the floor, but didn’t dismiss the fact that it’s always a challenge to make shots. Keeping a high level of energy was also something Waterman stressed.

“It’s the most experienced team I’ll ever coach and that experience showed (tonight),” he said. “Just the way they shared the ball and moved the ball. They made it look easy (tonight) and it’s not easy. Sometimes when you have good players, they make it look that way.

“I was really happy that we were able to maintain intensity. We had a big lead at halftime, came out and maintained the intensity. The second team went in and maintained the intensity after that, and I thought that was awesome from our kids all night long.”

The young Modeltowners, who have just one senior in their starting five, fell to 0-2. Head coach Jim Finkbeiner credited Negaunee’s talent level and said his team was simply outworked.

“(Negaunee) is a huge challenge with four returning starters from last year and those guys have played together for three years,” he said. “It’s a huge hurdle and they’ve got more weapons than most teams.

“I know Iron Mountain is good and they’ve got a really good team, but Negaunee is loaded and we knew that.

“We’re having to grow into some different roles right now, but the biggest thing from (tonight) is that we didn’t play hard enough. We played hard in spurts, and you don’t play hard in spurts against a team like that. They just outworked us.

“We got spurts here and there from guys. Caleb (Anderson) had a little spurt, Reid (Hill) had a little spurt, but the problem is you can’t have spurts against good teams….

“You can make mistakes, and things can go wrong, but if you play hard, that can make up for some stuff. You can’t make up for it when you don’t play hard. We’ve got to be better.”

Hill and junior James Harnick paced Gwinn with nine points each, while Mastin Love added six and Tristan Jansci five.

Negaunee took a 20-4 lead after one quarter with 10 of those points from Waterman.

After a 4-4 draw, the Miners scored 16 unanswered points to finish the first eight minutes.

DuShane hit a layup at the buzzer to give the Miners a 39-14 advantage at halftime.

Gwinn was outscored 29-20 in the second half as Negaunee cruised by shooting 60 percent.

Gwinn picked up 29 rebounds to Negaunee’s 17. Jansci had nine boards for the Modeltowners while Jakson Sager led the Miners with five.

Gwinn hosts Ishpeming on Wednesday while Negaunee travels to West Iron County on Thursday.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.