CASS LAKE – Few area rivalries match the intensity of the annual battles between the Cass Lake-Bena and Red Lake boys basketball teams.
Wednesday in Cass Lake the rivals met for the second time this year and, for the second time, the Panthers found a way to earn the victory.
CL-B dominated the early portion of Wednesday’s contest and opened an 8-1 lead. Midway through the first half the Panthers extended that margin to 29-11 and the quick start vaulted Cass Lake-Bena to a 91-73 win.
Earlier this winter the Panthers edged the Warriors 97-96 in Red Lake so, barring any rematch in the Section 8A playoffs, CL-B can claim bragging rights this season.
“My years of coaching at Cass Lake-Bena have shown that we usually win in Cass Lake and they usually win in Red Lake,” said CL-B coach Brian Michaelson. “I think the teams bring out the best in each other. The games are usually high scoring and at the end Roger (Red Lake coach Roger White) and I are always wondering where the defense is.”
Michaelson employed a new lineup Wednesday as he inserted Gage Headbird into the starting cast. Judging by Headbird’s performance, the sophomore’s first start will not be his last.
Headbird contributed a team-high 23 points, nailing seven field goals, including three from 3-point land.
“Gage played very well, especially for the first start of his career,” his coach said.
Michaelson’s starting cast featured freshman Alvin Wind, sophomores Headbird and Damien Kingbird, junior Josh LaDuke and senior Jordan Collins. And the coach liked what he saw.
“We still have many little things to clean up, such as missing a bunch of bunnies under the basket, but if we play the rest of the way like we did (Wednesday) we can get back into the conference chase,” Michaelson said.
The Panthers improved to 5-8 overall and tied Red Lake for fifth in the Northland Conference standings with a 5-4 record.
Despite the quick start, CL-B’s win did not come easily. With seven minutes to play the Warriors trailed 34-16 but they climbed back within 46-37 at intermission.
Cass Lake-Bena’s lead remained about 10 points through the first three minutes of the second stanza but a 9-0 run upped its cushion to 62-44 with 13:26 to play.
Once again, however, Red Lake’s constant defensive pressure took a toll and with 6:17 to play the visitors were behind only 75-67.
That was as close as they would come, however, as CL-B converted the majority of its free throws down the stretch and widened the final margin to 91-73.
Joining Headbird in double figures for the Panthers were Collins with 21, LaDuke with 18 and Wind with 12.
Red Lake (11-9) was paced by Ryan Holthusen who had 22 and Aaron Beaulieu who scored 20.
In the front half of Wednesday’s doubleheader the Red Lake girls stopped CL-B 88-62. Averi Holthusen scored 26 for the Warriors and Tatianna McClain added 25. Grace White tallied 16 and Sara Mountain had 15.
CL-B had four players in double figures including Megham Brun who finished with 20. Tifani Ellis scored 11, Justine Jourdain 11 and Antonia Archambault 10.
Red Lake (73): A.Beaulieu 8, 3-5, 20; Patterson 1, 0-0, 2; M.Beaulieu 3, 1-4, 7; Jourdain 4, 1-4, 9; Holthusen 3, 14-20, 22; Roy 2, 3-4, 9. Totals: 21, 26-43, 73
CL-B (91): Wind 4, 4-5, 12; Swanholm 0, 0-0, 0; LaDuke 7, 2-2, 18; Collins 8, 5-7, 21; Headbird 7, 5-6, 23; D.Kingbird 2, 3-4, 7; M.Kingbird 3, 2-2, 8; Cloud 1, 0-0, 2. Totals: 32, 21-26, 91
3-point FG: Red Lake 5 (A.Beaulieu 1, Holthusen 2, Roy 2); CL-B 6 (LaDuke 2, Headbird 4)
Fouls: Red Lake 22; CL-B 28
Halftime: CL-B 46, Red Lake 37
Red Lake (88): Mountain 15, White 16, Holthusen 26, McClain 25, Desjarlait 6
CL-B (62): Reyes 3, Cloud 7, Archambault 10, Jourdain 11, Brun 20, Ellis 11
Halftime: Red Lake 39, CL-B 35