The Lakes were met with disappointment in the first round of the Midwest Regional Tournament once again on Thursday, losing to the Pioneers of Northland 74-70.
The newly-christened student section (the ‘Piercefield Pit’) was out in full throat as the teams tipped. The first half was well-contested and neither team gained a decisive advantage by halftime, which saw Northland holding a slim 33-28 margin.
Great Lakes got the second half started with a quick scoring run which gave them the lead with fourteen minutes left in the game. The lead continued to grow as Garrett Abner and Kyle Downing rained down shots from the perimeter, the Lakes led by nine, 60-51, with 7:25 left.
Slowly, however, Northland began to cut into the deficit. Great Lakes struggled from the free throw line, shooting only 4-for-14 for the game, while Northland shot 14-for-20. That was the difference down the stretch as the Pioneers tied the game at 70 with 46.1 seconds on the clock. Northland went ahead on a pair of free throws a few seconds later, and the Lakes failed to score on the ensuing possession, forcing them to foul the Pioneers to stop the clock with 4.1 seconds left. Northland converted both free throws to put the game away and end the Lakes’ season with a final score of 74-70.
“I feel like we grew a whole lot from beginning to end,” said assistant coach Mike Dobson, “It’s nothing to hang our heads about. I feel that if we get in the gym and work hard we can accomplish even greater things next year. So, I think this season to us was a plus because we improved from years past. Great Lakes is now on the map, and I feel like everybody understands what Great Lakes is about, and I everybody’s going to prepare for us.”
“I’m very proud of us”, said first-year student Brandon Jones “We can’t hang our heads down about this one, it was a tough loss at home but we’ve got to keep moving forward.”
“We let it slip through our hands”, said point guard Troy Aubrey, “it was a tough hard-fought game but I’m proud of all the guys… We progressed a lot, we had a great team and a great season. I’m very proud of my teammates. I think that made the fans, and ourselves believe that we deserve to be out there with everybody else. You know a game like this, it’s a heartbreaker, man. You just come up short, you do everything you can just to come up short, and it’s a tough way to go out on the season, but we have every reason to keep our heads up.”
“The season’s been a great season”, said head coach John Piercefield, “if we can build on the second half of this, and go into next year, we’ve got some new recruits, we’ve got some guys coming in, it’s going to be a good year.”
“The other thing is”, he went on to say, “I’ve never coached finer players. Everybody has a style, everybody has their game, and to be able to coach players that come in and are willing to listen, and willing to adapt, and willing to play their role, do all the things they need to do… it’s fantastic.”