Alpena’s valiant effort not enough in district opening loss to Petoskey 

Entering Monday’s postseason opener, the Alpena High boys basketball team knew it had a big hill to climb in order to pull off a massive March upset.

The Wildcats gave it everything they had, but in the end, just couldn’t keep up with a talented Petoskey team, falling to the Northmen by a final score of 68-53, putting an end to Alpena’s season.

“Super proud of our guys. They just continued to fight, compete and show great resiliency,” Alpena coach John Pintar said. “We were playing to win and we’d get knocked down and keep coming back. This was a great basketball team we played tonight, we continued to fight all night, but just came up short in a few key areas. I was pleased with a lot of things we did, but unfortunately just came up a little short.”

Despite the first six points of the game coming from Petoskey (17-6), the Wildcats (3-20) refused to back down.

Northmen senior, 6-6, Cade Trudeau was a problem early, scoring six of Petoskey’s first eight points to put the Northmen up 8-2.

The Wildcats responded in a big way scoring eight straight, behind a pair of threes from Connor Cameron to give Alpena a 10-8 lead and some life.

Both teams went back and forth the rest of the quarter and were deadlocked, 15-15 at the end of one.

The Wildcats started the second fast, scoring the first five points to take a 20-15 lead and held a five point advantage for the first two minutes of the quarter before Petoskey locked in, ending the half on a 16-4 run, holding Alpena scoreless for nearly four minutes down the stretch and the Northmen got a boost at the buzzer when Shane Izard hit a three as the horn went off to give Petoskey a 34-27 halftime advantage after ending the quarter with four consecutive threes.

The wheels began to fall off midway through the third quarter as the Northmen broke the game open, scoring nine unanswered points to take a 48-33 and force Alpena to take a timeout with 2:16 left in the quarter.

Once again, the Wildcats refused to go away quietly as they scratched and clawed their way back, finishing the third in an 11-2 run, which ended with Caleb McEwen scoring a layup to beat the buzzer and cut the Alpena deficit to 50-42 after three quarters.

The Wildcats scored the first bucket of the fourth to come within six, but it was as close as Alpena would get the rest of the night as the Northmen used a 16-3 run to blow the game open and take a commanding 66-47 lead late in the fourth and cruise to a comfortable win.

Alpena was led by senior Colt Gray who finished his Wildcat basketball career with a team-high 17 points and Tucker Bright added 11 points.

“The off-season starts right now. We’re not necessarily going to grow, so we have to get stronger. We have to commit to the weight room and get ready to take in the physical battles that we see in our conference every night,” Pintar said. “Our seniors set a great tone this season by showing up, working hard and be positive so I hope the younger guys understand that. It’s not about being close. We have to turn close losses into wins and it starts right now in the offseason and we need to put in the work in order to be ready for next year.”