Late surge gives Pioneers win over ACC men

A few minutes made the difference between a win and a loss for the Alpena Community College men’s basketball team on Wednesday.

The Lumberjacks found themselves in a back-and-forth game with Delta during Hoops for Hope night at Park Arena, but a late scoring drought allowed the Pioneers to pull away to an 81-68 win.

A pair of treys from William Gates Jr., cut the lead to 71-65 with 6:02 left, but the Lumberjacks (4-15, 2-9 MCCAA Eastern) were outscored 11-3 the rest of the way and Delta simply had more weapons at its disposal.

“They pulled away because we didn’t put enough defensive pressure on them. We started turning the ball over and we didn’t do that the first half,” ACC coach Frank McCourt said. “You have to play 40 minutes in this league.”

The Lumberjacks led 35-34 at halftime and the two sides traded the lead early in the second half. Aaron Prim gave the Pioneers the lead for good with 4:58 left despite ACC drawing close several times. A triple from Kharri Dailey cut the lead to 52-50 with 11:32 left, but Delta pulled away again.

Tre Johnson led Delta with 26 points and scored 15 of those in the second half. Austin Marine added 19 points and Prim had 10.

Boasting a lineup with six players standing at least 6-3, Delta used its size to its advantage and drew a lot of contact inside. The Pioneers went 21-for-26 at the free-throw line and shot 43 percent from the field.

Scott Hicks III led ACC with 20 points and Dailey had 18, but some of the Lumberjacks’ other consistent scoring threats were held at bay. Travon Howard was limited to seven points and Stephen Sheperd scored six points after sitting out most of the first half.

“If the shots don’t go down you’re in trouble,” McCourt said. “They didn’t make a three the first half and they must’ve made 3 or 4 in the second half.

ACC found some success from three-point range in the second half, sinking five triples including the late pair from Gates. ACC shot 27 percent from the field and made seven triples, but went just 7-for-11 at the charity stripe.

The first half saw more of the same back-and-forth action with neither side leading by more than six points. ACC led 27-21 with 6:18 left, but Delta answered by scoring the next eight points to take the lead.

ACC took the lead again late in the half with a six-point stretch that was bookended by dunks from Shepherd and Hicks.

Wednesday’s defeat couldn’t overshadow the Hoops for Hope game which is in its fourth year and raises awareness of breast cancer.

“There’s a lot of people that have had contact with ACC that have had cancer issues and so it’s really important to them,” McCourt said.

The Lumberjacks have lost five straight games and will play at Kirtland on Saturday.

DELTA (81): A. Marine 7 5-5 19; B. Whitehead 1 2-2 4; T. Johnson 9 8-8 26; C. McIntosh 2 2-2 7; A. Prim 4 2-5 10; K. Boensch 3 0-0 7; G. Blalock 3 2-3 8.

ALPENA (68): S. Hicks 6 5-7 20; T. Howard 3 1-1 7; C. Lamp 3 0-0 6; K. Dailey 8 1-2 18; L. Wickert 1 0-0 3; E. Thompson 1 0-0 2; S. Shepherd 3 0-0 6; W. Gates 2 0-0 6.

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.