Montabella found themselves down 29-21 at the half, but outscored the Wildcats 41-24 in the second half to open the boys basketball season with a 62-53 win.
Starting midway through the second quarter the Mustangs slowly increased their defensive pressure. Lakeview had its largest lead of the night at 25-14 before the Mustangs closed the half with a 7-4 run.
“I think we played nervous. A lot of our kids didn’t do what we practiced,” Montabella coach Cam Gatrell said. “They weren’t moving the ball like they should. They weren’t being strong with the ball. They weren’t being fundamental.”
The Mustangs opened the second quarter with a full court press and a 10-0 run including eight straight points by senior Jemikal Papendick, four of those set up by his own steals.
“He is just a phenomenal athlete,” Gatrell said of Papendick. “He can get out on the full court and run and not many people can run with him.”
“I think it was a typical first game mentally,” Lakeview coach Mike Schreiber said. “Mentally, when they increased their pressure on us we didn’t match that pressure. We softened our play and that played against us.”
Montabella took its first lead since early in game with a basket by Charley Helmer at 33-31.
After Lakeview sophomore Shawn Lindsey tied the game at 39 the Mustangs’ Nate Jankowsky gave his team a 42-39 lead on the next trip down the court. Montabella never trailed again and led 44-39 after three quarters.
“We had to grind it out, We had to get in their face full court,” Gatrell said. “We are an athletic team and that’s what we have to do.”
Montabella sealed the game by making 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Schreiber said the Montabella pressure really affected his team’s ability to run the offense.
“The pressure took us out of our execution,” Schreiber said. “We would just break the press and then not run the offense.”
Lindsey knocked down four three-pointers and finished with 18 points. Brad Root added 14 points for the Wildcats (0-1).
“We played younger than we are because of the pressure situations,” Schreiber said. “We have got to learn to handle it and we can do some things in practice to help. We just need a couple of games.”
Helmer scored a game-high 20 points. Papendick added 18 points and Jeramee Gilman finished with 10 for the Mustangs (1-0).
Montabella will host Vestaburg on Thursday night while the Wildcats host CSAA rival Central Montcalm on Friday.