Portagers Edge Sabers

Posted by Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate
December 10, 2013

Onekama’s Jarett Sovereign (33) shoots over Traverse City Christian’s Kris Crosby during the second half of Tuesday’s game. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Onekama’s Jarett Sovereign (33) shoots over Traverse City Christian’s Kris Crosby during the second half of Tuesday’s game. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

ONEKAMA — Listed at 6-foot-8, Traverse City Christian’s Kris Crosby is hard to miss, and hardly misses when he gets the ball in the paint.

Onekama couldn’t match his height or strength individually, but swarmed the senior center as a team on Tuesday to win its season opener 55-53.

“We knew if he got close to the basket he’d get his points, so we wanted to make sure to have a body on him all the time to make him work,” said first-year Portagers boys coach Nathan Bradford. “He was a force — we had to sometimes put two guys on him — but the main thing was everyone else kept working too, and we didn’t allow many of their other guys to score.

“The hard work defensively paid off.”

Crosby got his points — leading all scorers with 32 — but Onekama led the majority of the second half and held on in the fourth with a balanced attack.

Jarett Sovereign, Randy Pienta and Caleb Wisniski each scored 12 points while Jon Acton netted 11. Jon Eno scored six and Jordan Coe added two. Sovereign, Eno, Coe and Wisniski each grabbed six boards while the Portagers combined for 14 steals, led by Sovereign’s five.

“It took us a little while in the first quarter to settle down, but once we got the thing rolling, the kids did a good job hustling on defense and rebounding overall,” Bradford said. “The offense got going a bit in the second quarter too, and we were able to play with the lead in the second half.”


The Sabres showed the early edge on both sides of the ball, and held a 14-9 advantage after the first. Crosby scored the first bucket in the second for what proved to be his team’s largest lead of the night, but the Portagers responded with eight straight points — a pair of free throws from Sovereign and three straight layups from Pienta.

“We settled down a bit, and did a better job taking care of the ball,” said Bradford, who cited 10 turnovers in the first half, and just five the rest of the way.

The teams traded buckets until the break, at which time Onekama held a slight lead at 22-21. 

TCC scored four of the first six third-quarter points for a 25-24 advantage, but a triple by Acton at 6:24 in the frame gave Onekama a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“Defensive intensity was lacking,” said Sabres coach Kris Crosby. “I think we just flat-out got out-hustled. They got to the ball more than we did, and that’s something we have to improve on as a team.”

Krosby, the center, took the reigns offensively down the stretch, scoring nine of his team’s 11 points in the third as part of his 24 in the second half.

“I thought we had a bit of an advantage there and didn’t exploit it as much as we could have,” Coach Crosby said. “That’s part of growing as a team though.

“Sometimes tonight we took the good looks over the great looks, so some fell and some didn’t,” he added. “But, we’ll learn from it. It’s better to lose early than to lose late.”

The Portagers took a 40-32 lead into the fourth and fended off a late Sabres push, which closed the gap to two twice, including a last-second bucket by Crosby.

“We made our free throws down the stretch,” Bradford said. “We missed a few, but made the ones that really counted.”

Onekama’s junior varsity team also held on for a season-opening victory, topping Traverse City Christian 33-31. Hunter Exo led the Portagers with 11 points while Austin Sovereign added 10.