The streak is over

At some point it had to come to an end.

In spite of all the highs and all the successes, it was going to end sometime.

The Alpena boys basketball team just didn’t think it would be so soon.

For the first time since mid-December, the Wildcats lost a game and this time it was their biggest game of the year as Traverse City West topped Alpena 61-47 in a Class A district final on Friday at Alpena High School.

The loss ended a 20-game win streak for Alpena (20-2), which lost its season opener by two points and then proceeded to reel off 20 straight wins and capture the Big North Conference title along the way. A win Friday would’ve tied the record for wins in a season at 21.

Alpena held a 28-24 lead entering the third quarter, but West hit a last-second three-pointer before halftime and carried that momentum over into the second half. Tristan Roman hit two big three-pointers to give West (12-10) the lead in the opening minute of the third quarter and West took it from there.

“We just didn’t make shots in the second half and they got hot. Traverse City West is a really good basketball team and I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” Alpena coach John Pintar said. “They played hard, they got a lot of bounces that went their way and all the little things seemed to go their way tonight.”

West advances to a regional semifinal game in Cadillac on Monday against Mount Pleasant.

Roman paced the Titans with 12 points and was one of five West players in double figures. Alex Scott scored 11 and Thiyo Lukusa, Stephan Sheppard, Zack McGuire each had 10.

The two teams traded the lead a few times the rest of the third quarter and West led 43-39 at the end of the period. Alpena rallied back from a six-point deficit early in the fourth quarter when Andy Marwede scored on a putback, making it 45-44 with 6:45 left.

That was as close as Alpena got.

West outscored the Wildcats 16-3 in the last six minutes and sealed the deal at the free-throw line, going 9-for-10 in the fourth quarter. The Titans ended the game with a 16-for-18 clip from the charity stripe.

Alpena struggled to get shots to fall toward the end and was on the receiving end of some close calls from the officials.

“The officiating was horrendous,” Pintar said. “They took a lot away from us tonight.”

Marwede led Alpena with 16 points, Tyler Pintar added 13 points and Brad Styma had 10.

For the Titans, the win came after a number of ups-and-downs and a slow start to the season. West was racked by injuries early and started 2-7. The win was also a measure of revenge against Alpena after the Wildcats clinched the conference title on the road against West.

“It means a lot. I felt like all year we were close. We lost a number of close games at the beginning of the year and then we had Alpena come to our place and beat us,” West coach Greg Immink said. “We were close and finally we got over that hump tonight. I’m really so proud of our guys.”

West took a 7-2 lead to start the game, but the Wildcats fought to a 13-11 lead by the end of the period thanks in part to three triples, two of them coming from Brad Styma. Another short burst allowed Alpena to take a 21-13 lead midway through the second quarter, but West was able to keep pace and stayed within striking distance the rest of the way.

Alpena pushed its lead to nine with 1:53 remaining, but the Titans scored the last five points of the half after a pair of calls went their way. KJ Sayer gave West an extra boost when he canned a triple with two seconds left, cutting Alpena’s lead to four.

“We got a nice lead there late in the second quarter and we had a couple terrible calls go against us. That was huge,” Pintar said. “They got five points in the last 30 seconds or so and that was a boost for them, that was confidence that they carried over in the second half.”

Roman’s two triples to begin the second half gave West its first lead since the first quarter, 30-28, and the lead changed hands five times total in the period. Cody Tucker scored to give Alpena a 33-32 lead with 5:30 remaining, but West took the lead for good when Sheppard scored on the next possession.

TRAVERSE CITY WEST (61): T. Lukusa 4 2-2 10; A. Scott 3 4-4 11; J. Wheelock 0 1-2 1; T. Roman 4 1-2 12; Z. McGuire 4 2-2 10; K. Sayer 3 0-0 7; S. Sheppard 2 6-6 10.

ALPENA (47): A. Marwede 7 2-2 16; B. Styma 3 2-2 10; T. Pintar 4 2-3 13; N. Skiba 1 0-0 2; C. Tucker 1 1-2 3; D. Hoes 1 0-0 3.