Hoops Roundup: Frankfort Panthers victorious in barnburner against Traverse City Christian; District action gets underway with bevy of first-round games Monday

Feb. 26—TRAVERSE CITY — The atmosphere at Traverse City Christian felt more like a district championship game than a quarterfinal, and both the Frankfort Panthers and the host Sabres played like it.

A back-and-forth game eventually went the Panthers' way as Frankfort (16-7) left elated and TC Christian (16-7) left brokenhearted after a 52-45 final in Division 4 district playoff action Monday.

"What do you even say? You do your best to console them, but it's a tough loss," TC Christian head coach Rene LaFreniere said after the seven-point defeat. "You just tell them that you love 'em. I couldn't be more proud of them. These guys put more time in than any team I've ever been with."

With the game tied 11-11 after the first quarter, the Sabres forced Frankfort head coach Dan Loney to burn a timeout after Austin Miller and AJ Wylie drained threes on back-to-back possessions to put TC Christian up 17-11. The Panthers worked their way back to a 23-23 tie when Emmerson Farmer connected from long distance with 1:45 left in the half.

TC Christian kept Frankfort off the board the rest of the way, and Reece Broderick hit two free throws followed by a 3-pointer as time expired to send the Sabres into the locker room in front of a pumped-up home crowd with a 28-23 lead.

The Sabres scored the first four points of the second half, but Frankfort scored the next 14 unanswered to grab a 37-32 advantage before Wylie hit another triple and Miller connected on a layup to make it 37-37 heading into the final quarter.

The Panthers opened the fourth on a 7-0 run behind points from Carter Kerby, Bryce Plesha and Farmer. A layup from Jonah Mleko brought TC Christian back within four points at 46-42, and the Sabres could have tied or possibly taken a lead had some close shots fallen instead of rolling off the rim.

Frankfort extended the lead to 10 with a half-minute to play at 52-42. Broderick hit a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining, but the Panthers let the time run out to escape with the win and advance to Wednesday's semis.

"It's what we expected, especially coming here on the road for districts," Loney said. "Every game is going to be tight. Expect adversity. It's how you respond, who plays harder, and who wants it more."

Frankfort moves on to battle Lake Leelanau St. Mary in the district semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Glen Lake takes on Suttons Bay in the other semi at 7 p.m. Both games will be played at Glen Lake High School.

"We're trying to go 1-0 every night," Loney said. "We'll get a good game plan in and try to go 1-0 Wednesday. If we do that, then we'll worry about Friday."

Just four players scored for the victorious Panthers. Plesha led with 19 points followed by Kerby with 15, Farmer with 12, and Eli Lietaert with six points. Plesha had four rebounds, Kerby hauled in five, and both Farmer and Lietaert grabbed seven boards apiece. Kerby led in assists with three, and he also had three blocks.

Broderick led the Sabres with 15 points. Wylie had 10. Miller and Malachi Willis each had seven points. Mleko finished with four, and Garrett Schultz tallied TC Christian's other two points. The loss brings to an end the high school basketball careers of TC Christian seniors Mleko, Wylie, Jake Wierda, Vincent Weber, Willis and Charlie Corwin.

"I told the seniors that when the time finally comes and this school finally wins a district in basketball, they're all getting their name on the trophy," LaFreniere said. "They all had something to do with moving us in the right direction."


Gaylord 71

TC Central 57

Traverse City Central: Anthony Ribel 31 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists; Brendan Slack 11 points; Brayden McCoon 4 rebounds.

UP NEXT: The Blue Devils (11-12) travel to Marquette for the district semis Wednesday. The Trojans end their season at 6-16.

TC St. Francis 54

Lake City 18

Traverse City St. Francis: Max Ogden 14 points; Chris Bobrowski 11 points, 3 assists; Louis Rhein 8 points, 4 rebounds.

UP NEXT: The Gladiators (10-12) battle McBain in the district semis at Benzie Central on Wednesday. The Trojans end their season at 5-19.

Manton 59

Houghton Lake 52

Manton: Kaleb Musselman 16 points, 4 assists; Lincoln Hicks 13 points, 4 assists; Michael Hicks 12 points.

UP NEXT: The Rangers (10-11) travel to Benzie Central for the district semis Wednesday.

Suttons Bay 73

GT Academy 34

Suttons Bay: Austin Vang 11 points, 14 rebounds; Urijah TwoCrow 16 points, 3 steals; Grayson Opie 15 points, 5 rebounds.

UP NEXT: The Norsemen (8-13) take on Glen Lake in the district semifinals Wednesday at Glen Lake. The Mustangs end their season at 2-21.

Lake Leelanau SM 58

Leland 30

Lake Leelanau St. Mary: Jerry Schaub 19 points; Josh Bunek 11 points; Oliver Mitchell 11 points; Luke Bramer 10 points.

Leland: Logan DeFour 9 points.

UP NEXT: The Eagles (8-14) take on Frankfort in the district semis at Glen Lake on Wednesday. The Comets end their season at 4-18.

Petoskey 56

Alpena 30

UP NEXT: The Northmen (12-11) head to Traverse City West for the district semis Wednesday.

Kingsley 59

Grayling 40

Kingsley: Chase Bott 16 points, 10 rebounds; Eli Graves 12 points; Skylar Workman 10 points, 5 steals.

Grayling: Tristan Demlow 21 points.

UP NEXT: The Stags (10-12) take on Sault Area in the district semis at home Wednesday. The Vikings end their season at 11-12.

Kalkaska 57

Cheboygan 47

UP NEXT: The Blazers (2-21) advance to the district semifinals at Boyne City on Wednesday.

Manistee 45

Big Rapids 32

UP NEXT: The Mariners (11-12) host Ludington in the district semis Wednesday.

Elk Rapids 69

Mancelona 43

Elk Rapids: Haven Somers 18 points; Max Ward 13 points; Noah Hilley 12 points; Owen Spencer 11 points.

Mancelona: Ryan Naumcheff 10 points; Owen Krino 7 points; Ivan Kuzmanoski 6 points; Tavin Morgan 5 points; Aiden Dixon 5 points.

UP NEXT: The Elks (16-7) take on the host Rayders at Charlevoix in the district semis Wednesday. The Ironmen end their season at 17-6.

East Jordan 80

Joburg 34

East Jordan: Lucas Stone 23 points, 7 3-pointers; Ryder Malpass 14 points; Korbyn Russell 9 points; Ellis Malpass 8 points; Trayce Wynkoop 7 points.

Johannesburg-Lewiston: Thomas Fox 11 points; Malaki Gascho 8 points; Kyler Nowak 7 points.

UP NEXT: The Red Devils (9-14) battle Harbor Springs in the district semis at Charlevoix on Wednesday. The Cardinals end their season at 6-17.

Harbor Light 64

Petoskey SM 15

UP NEXT: The Swordsmen (19-4) take on Mackinaw City at home in the district semis Wednesday. St. Michael ends its season at 1-7.

Onekama 52

Forest Area 30

Onekama: Caden Bradford 18 points, 2 rebounds; Tyler Hart 14 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals; Max Lamerson 10 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals.

UP NEXT: The Portagers (11-11) play the host Bears in the district semis at Buckley on Wednesday. Forest Area ends its season at 5-18.

Mesick 38

Bear Lake 36

Mesick: Tyler Hall 16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists, 2 blocks; Landon Hall 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block.

Bear Lake: Myles Harless 22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks; Kaden Forward 5 points, 2 rebounds; Gray Harless 4 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block.

UP NEXT: The Bulldogs (9-14) play Brethren in the district semis at Buckley on Wednesday. The Lakers end their season at 6-17.

Ellsworth 60

Boyne Falls 30

Ellsworth: Patrick Purrol 22 points, 6 steals, 4 rebounds; Evincio LaCount 16 points, 4 steals, 1 block; Cameron Snyder 8 points; Jurgen Griswold 4 points, 3 assists.

Boyne Falls: Keaton Matelski 13 points; Bryce Tonsor 10 points; JT Greenier 6 points.

UP NEXT: The Lancers (11-12) battle Bellaire in the district semis at Gaylord St. Mary on Wednesday. The Loggers end their season at 5-16.

Central Lake 98

Alba 19

Central Lake: Drayten Evans 23 points, 4 assists, 6 steals; Garrison Barrett 18 points, 3 rebounds, 12 steals; Grant Miller 9-14 FGs, 3 rebounds, 3 steals; Tristin Wiltse 6-7 FGs, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals.

UP NEXT: The Trojans (10-13) head to Gaylord St. Mary for the district semis Wednesday. The Wildcats end their season at 1-11.

Mason Co. Eastern 55

Manistee CC 48

UP NEXT: The Sabers end their season at 4-19.