BLANCHARD — Montabella’s boys basketball team held on in a close game against a team coach Cam Gatrell called a rival.
The Mustangs survived a late run by Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart to beat the Irish 55-54 Friday night. Gatrell said the difference was Montabella’s defense “other than (Billy) Myler getting 30.”
“He (Myler) hit from where we couldn’t defend him,” Gatrell said. “Offensively we were able to move the ball around.”
The Irish (3-1, 1-1) jumped out on the Mustangs (3-1 2-0) early, Gatrell noted.
“They (Sacred Heart) went up 4-0 on us, but the kids held their composure,” Gatrell said.
Montabella held their composure enough to lead 13-12 after one quarter. They also led 30-28 at halftime.
“Anything they ran we knew what was coming,” Gatrell said. “That’s a real credit to the kids.”
At halftime, Gatrell reminded his team that the Irish wasn’t going to give up.
“Stay composed and stay focused. It’s going to be a grind, and it always come down to the end,” Gatrell said. “I wanted to make sure they left it all on the floor, execute our sets and execute defensively.”
Gatrell said the team got the message, and then some.
“We came out ready to play,” he said. “The kids always get up for Sacred Heart. They wanted to pick up the intensity. The boys wanted to pick them up full-court, and I agreed. It didn’t cause any turnovers but it set a tempo for us.”
However, Sacred Heart cut a point off the lead and trailed 42-41 with a quarter to go.
Montabella got up by eight on the Irish before the late run. However, it wasn’t enough, as the teams each scored 13 points in the fourth quarter for the Mustang win.
Jemikal Papendick led Montabella with 20 points.
“Jemikal Papendick raised up to the occasion,” Gatrell said.
Jeremy Gilman and Charles Helmer added 10 points each to the win.
Sacred Heart had only five players score, led by Myler’s 30.
“They’re very young,” Gatrell said of the Irish. “They have eight kids coming back next year. The majority of players are either sophomores or juniors. They will get better as the year goes on.”
Montabella travels Tuesday to Remus to face Chippewa Hills.
“They (Chippewa Hills) have a new coach so we have to break down the film and figure out a game plan,” Gatrell said. “We have a lot of kids going on family Christmases, so we’ll come to school on Monday and put a game plan together.”