The Pequot Lakes boys’ basketball team defeated Aitkin 53-47 on Friday, Nov. 22, in the debut of head coach Ben Starns and the first basketball game played in the new Pequot Lakes Athletic Center.
Sophomore Hunter Larson came off the bench to lead Pequot Lakes with 13 points in the non-conference win. Larson scored eight of his points in the final six minutes as the Patriots survived a close game to win. The Gobblers’ 6-foot-6 Ryan Anderson and 6-foot-5 Jake Lynn each had 14 points.
“Hunter (Larson) and some of our underclassmen came up big for us, and they actually scored more than half of our points,” Starns said. “We had trouble matching their two big guys (Anderson and Lynn). But later in the game we did a much better job on them.”
Larson agreed that his team didn’t play well early.
“At the start, I didn’t think we played very well as a team,” he said, “but we did hit five threes (3-point baskets) to lead by three at the half.”
Senior John Craig connected from beyond the arc with 15:50 left in the first half for the first ever points for the Patriots in the new gymnasium. Pequot Lakes later led 11-9 after Tyler Tappe and Brett Peterson both hit long bombs. Larson then added his first of three 3-point baskets to extend the lead to 14-9.
The Patriots later led 21-18 at the half following a three-pointer by Brandon Hehir. Pequot Lakes extended the lead to 27-21 early in the second half after a layup by Connor Davich.
The Patriots enjoyed their largest lead of the game at 40-33 with 6:10 left after a 3-point basket by Larson. But Aitkin rallied to tie it at 40 with 4:35 remaining. But Larson answered with the next five points to make it 45-40 with 3:50 to go. The Gobblers cut the deficit to 46-44, but Craig made a pair of free throws and Davich added one free throw to make it 49-44 with 52 seconds left.
Craig then iced the victory with a pair of free throws with 22.4 remaining, and Peterson added two from the charity strike with two seconds left for the final points.
“It was a nice win to get the season started, and I thought we played pretty good defense,” Larson said. “We did shoot free throws well, which helped us get the win.”
The Patriots, who were scheduled to play at Deer River on Tuesday, Nov. 26, will then host Wadena-Deer Creek on Friday, Dec. 6.
Aitkin 18 29 — 47
Pequot Lakes 21 32 — 53
Connor Davich 7, Jack Kreitz 4, Brett Peterson 9, John Craig 8, Tyler Tappe 3, Brandon Hehir 3, Travis Jacobson 2, Hunter Larson 13, CJ Borleis 4. FT 14-21 (67 percent).
Bryce Haugly 1, Kyle Thompson 8, Logan Quade 8, Sam Hanson 2, Ryan Anderson 14, Jake Lynn 14. FT 7-18 (39 percent).