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DL boys continue dramatic streak in first victory

A big first half by Detroit Lakes' leading scorer Ben Stearns led to a team-high 22 points to lead the Lakers to victory over Pequot Lakes in a Mid-State Conference contest Thursday, Dec. 13 at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium. Robert Williams / Tribune

Detroit Lakes senior Ben Stearns caught fire in the first half leading the Lakers to their first victory of the season 64-61 over Pequot Lakes in a Mid-State Conference boys basketball nail biter Thursday, Dec. 13 at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.

Sean Ryan opened the game with 10 of the Patriots first 14 points as Pequot Lakes grabbed a 10-point lead early, 14-4, and looked like they were in control of the pace of play.

“It was early. We knew we had a lot of time and if we hit some shots we’d be good,” said Stearns.

A time out by Laker head coach Markus Okeson settled down his players and Stearns hit four three-point baskets scoring 16 of his team-high 22 points prior to the break to get the Lakers right back in it.

His fourth three-pointer pulled DL to within a possession trailing 26-24. Drew Markuson grabbed a rebound on a missed three by Nate Cihak and scored under the basket to tie the game at 26 with two-minutes, 30-seconds remaining in the half.

After empty trips for both teams in the final two minutes, DL’s Tate Kerzman drilled a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining in the half to give the Lakers their first lead of the game 28-26 and big momentum heading into halftime.

DL has had problems executing at key points in games that has led to two losses to start the year. Laker players were set on reversing that trend in the conference opener.

“We just kept working around,” Stearns said. “The last couple games when we got to crunch time we stopped playing like we were and we just tried to continue doing what we were doing.”

The Lakers stretched their lead to seven points twice in the second half. Jake Bettcher capped off a 15-10 run out of the break to lead 43-36 and a Gabe Hanninen basket pushed DL up 49-42.

Bettcher stepped up in the second half scoring in place of Stearns who was smothered by the Patriots’ defense.

Cihak drained a two to give the Lakers their largest lead of eight points 51-43 with six minutes to play.

The turnover bug hit DL on five straight possessions and a 9-0 Patriot run gave Pequot the lead back 52-51 on a Ryan field goal.

The lead flipped on a Kerzman drive and a foul for a three-point play followed up by a Jordan Schommer basket for the Patriots. Bettcher drove to the rim giving DL a 56-55 lead with 3:15 to go.

JAKE BETTCHER

Rather than fold in the late-going, DL held the cushion on the scoreboard to the final buzzer. Cihak found Bettcher wide open under the hoop to help seal the win as the Lakers broke the Patriot press.

Stearns was fouled with a chance to put the game away but made one of two free throws with eight ticks left on the clock for the final score. Schommer had a decent look from straight on for a three to tie but his shot found the front rim as time expired.

Ryan led all scorers with 23 points; Schommer added 21 as the two players scored 72 percent of Pequot Lakes’ points.

Stearns paced the Lakers with 22 points. He leads DL (1-2) in scoring through three games averaging 18.3 points per game, but that is the least of his worries.

“I wish I was averaging zero and we were 3-0,” he said.

Bettcher added 18 points. Cihak scored six, Hanninen and Kerzman added five each.

All three Laker games this season have been decided by five points or less, one in overtime and the opener by one point.

DL and Pequot tied for the Mid-State title last year with matching 8-2 marks in conference play.

The Patriots lost for the first time dropping the 4-1. The 1-2 Lakers hit the road for the first time at Alexandria (1-3) in a Section 8AAA game. The Cardinals have won the last six games in the series.

PL 26 35 - 61

DL 28 36 - 64

P - Sean Ryan 23, Jordan Schommer 21, Bode Magnuson 9, Tyler Manley 4, Dylin Ackerman 2, Vincent Miska 2.

D - Ben Stearns 22, Jake Bettcher 18, Nate Cihak 6, Tate Kerzman 5, Gabe Hanninen 5, Drew Markuson 4, Max Gunderson 4.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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