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Pioneers’ speed stuns Pirates in season opener

Photo by Calli Newberry

by Calli Newberry

A 45-point victory for the Croswell-Lexington High School boys basketball team still left head coach Lance Campbell with much to be desired after the home season opener against Harbor Beach on Monday night. 

“We look at the score and people think, ‘Oh you won by 45,’ but there’s a lot of things we’ve got to get better at,” Campbell said. “We just talked for five minutes and we focused on the positive stuff for probably a minute, and then talked about what we need to correct to get better and be where we want to be at the end of the year.”

“We want to compete for a league championship and a district championship, and in order to do that,” he said, “we’ve got to correct some of those correctable mistakes.”

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Photo by Calli Newberry

The scoreboard glowed 81-36 by the time the final buzzer sounded, and it all started with a 7-0 run that forced a Harbor Beach timeout. 

After the first eight minutes of play it was 23-9, and by halftime, Cros-Lex led 47-18. 

“We played with great energy early. We missed some makeable shots but we were able to get in there and get some second chance opportunities,” Campbell said. “It kind of set a tone right off the bat to go up 7-0, a lot of energy from us, and we continued to pick it up and stay with that throughout the game.”

The second half told a similar story as junior guard Trey Kolakovich scored six consecutive points to spark a 10-point scoring run for the Pioneers. The run was eventually snapped, however, by a Harbor Beach free throw that led the Pirates to a run of their own. 

They scored six points and held Cros-Lex scoreless for two minutes. Finally senior guard Jake Townsend found junior guard Zack Kroetsch cutting under the basket. He zipped a cross-court pass down low for Kroestch to snag a pair of points. By the end of the third quarter, it was 72-28, sealing the Pioneers’ victory. 

Kolakovich led the Pioneers with 24 points, 11 of which came in the third quarter alone. 

“He’s just a bulldog on both ends of the floor. He puts so much pressure on people with the basketball and offensively he puts pressure on you because he’s going to break you down. He shot a couple of threes and he’s a great passer,” Campbell said. “He’s one of the best players in the area and [last night] he proved it. And we’ve got the left-handed version of him in Jake. They’re dynamic and they’re going to be great for us this year.” 

Another key role in the dynamic Cros-Lex offense is Kroetsch, who tallied 16 points. He and Kolakovich combined for six threes on the night. 

Photo by Calli Newberry

“It’s good because [Kroetsch] knows how I play and I know how he plays and we get each other shots. We just complement each other really well,” Kolakovich said. “It’s great. We’ve been looking forward to this since we were little.”

Senior forwards Saige Slanec and Kirk Wilson each chipped in with 10 points, and Townsend added eight. 

Friday, the Pioneers will travel to Marysville for another non-conference matchup with the Vikings. Campbell said this could be a more true test to see where his team stands. 

“To be honest, I think we were like a ‘C’ on defense [last night]. I thought we had a lot of issues defensively where we didn’t have great rotations,” he said. “We came up and got some tips and got some steals…but against teams that have stronger guards, I think that’s where we need to understand rotations. It’s game one, so hopefully we can be better before we play Marysville on Friday.” 

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