By DOUG DONNELLY
BLISSFIELD – Whiteford’s boys basketball season came to a close Wednesday with a 69-52 Division 3 District semifinal loss to Erie Mason.
The Bobcats put a lot of bruises on the 19-2 Eagles but came up short. The grit and determination impressed Erie Mason head coach Kevin Skaggs.
“We knew we were going to get their best shot,” Skaggs said. “That is a prideful group. They’ve won championships in baseball and football. They weren’t going to give up.”
Whiteford closes out the season at 7-15.
The Bobcats seemed to be in striking distance the entire game but couldn’t put together enough stops on Mason’s Joe Liedel to get close to the Eagles on the scoreboard.
It was a 10-7 game when Jake Trainor spurred the Mason offense with a 3-pointer. Bryan Sweeney followed that up with a short jumper and pair of free throws to make it 17-9 early in the second quarter. However, Liedel picked up his third foul, and Bobcat seniors Isaac Badenhop and Nathan Bauman connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 17-15 with 5:19 left in the half.
It was the closest Whiteford would come.
Liedel scored in the paint to make it 19-15. Sweeney connected again, John Sweeney converted on a nifty pass from Liedel and then Liedel drained a pull-up 3-pointer to make it 26-19 and connected again seconds later for a 10-point Mason lead. Liedel finished with 30 points.
“I’m proud of our guys,” first-year Bobcat coach Nick Abalos said. “The effort was there, and we didn’t back down. We were finally at full strength and it showed in the district. We showed it against Clinton, and I thought we came out and played Mason hard. They are a good team.”
For the Bobcats, Badenhop and Bauman each finished with 16 points and Nick Marchant closed out his junior season with a season-high 11. Hunter Lake finished his career with a four-point night and 873 career points, good for 11th place in school history.
“When I started the season, I said we wanted to accomplish three things,” Abalos continued. “I said we wanted to work hard, never be out-worked; we wanted to be selfless and we wanted to be coachable. These kids were. In that aspect, I was happy with the effort they gave me.”
Marchant 3(2) 3-6 11, Clark-Gilmore 1 0-0 2, Bauman 5(2) 1-2 16, Lake 0 4-8 4, Bertz 0 2-3 2, Badenhop 5(3) 3-6 16, Tesznar 0 1-2 1. Totals 14(7) 14-27 52.
ERIE MASON (69)
Liedel 10(4) 6-6 30, Trainor 4 3-6 11, Werner 1 0-0 2, B. Sweeney 8(2) 2-2 20, Steinman 0 1-2 1, J. Sweeney 2(1) 0-0 5. Totals 25(7) 12-16 69.
WHITEFORD 8 19 7 18 – 52
ERIE MASON 13 22 17 17 – 69
PHOTO OF NATE BAUMAN BY CARI HAYES