BLANCHARD — Montabella’s Charley Helmer and Jemikal Papendick used their size to their advantage.
The two seniors combined for 43 points — 26 points in the second half — to fend off the scrappy Central Montcalm Green Hornets 71-57 in a nonleague game on Tuesday night.
“I think it helped having some size,” Montabella coach Cam Gatrell said. “Charley’s tough to defend and Jemikal stepped it up.”
Led by Alex Maxted in the first quarter and Jarred Cilibraise in the second quarter the Hornets were tied with the Mustangs 32-32 at halftime.
“The kids played hard. We knew we had to concentrate on Helmer,” Hornets coach John Kearney said of the first half. “We did good helping out and blocked out well. We didn’t give them many second shots. We ran our offense the way we wanted to and got them tired.”
The third quarter was a battle between Helmer and Maxted. The two big men each scored 10 points in the quarter and often traded baskets.
The Mustangs opened up a five-point lead on a Chad Braman three-pointer with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter. The Hornets stayed tight until Papendick and Helmer combined for a pair of baskets late in the quarter for a 49-42 lead after three quarters.
“I think we used our pressure a little bit better,” Gatrell said. “We got a few steals and we contested their shots better.”
“It was a tale of two cities. The second half we didn’t do the same things,” Kearney said. “The biggest part was when we stopped them, we didn’t box out and they got the second shot and scored.”
After a Drew Nemeth three-point play brought the Hornets within four points the Mustangs went on a 6-0 run for a 59-49 lead, their largest lead of the night to that point.
“Coach Kearney has always, traditionally, got a lot out of his kids,” Gatrell said. “We knew they would play hard and they did. They made us work hard for the win.”
Montabella sealed it down the stretch with 10 free throws as the Hornets fouled to try to stay in the game.
“I’m proud of how we played. We are better than our record says,” Kearney said. “We are learning how to do the things we need to do to win. We are one step away from taking a giant step.”
Maxted led the Hornets with 18 points. Cilibraise followed that up with 15 points.
“We go how Alex goes,” Kearney said. “Everyone knows we have to feed off him. They all know when he gets going there will be two or three guys on him and that opens things up on a kick out. He has done a great job and worked hard.”
Helmer scored a game-high 23 points. Papendick added 20 points and Braman had 11 points.
Central Montcalm fell to 4-9 overall. The Mustangs improved to 9-5.
The Hornets host Holton tonight in a makeup game while the Mustangs host Ashley at home Friday.
C. Montcalm 15 17 10 15 — 57
Montabella 15 17 17 22 — 71
C. MONTCALM (4-9) — Sleet 3 0-1 6, Plavin 3 2-4 9, Bartz 1 2-2 5, Cilibraise 3 9-12 15, Maxted 9 0-1 18, Nemeth 1 1-1 3, Barnwell 0 1-2 1. Totals: 20 15-23 57. Three-point goals: Bartz, Plavin. Fouled out: None.
MONTABELLA (9-5) — Eldred 0 2-2 2, Dunn 1 0-0 2, Papendick 8 4-5 20, Braman 2 5-6 11, Dailey 1 2-2 4, Jankowsky 1 0-0 3, Gilman 3 0-1 6, Helmer 8 7-12 23. Totals: 24 20-28 71. Three-point goals: Braman 2, Jankowsky. Fouled out: Dunn. Technical foul: Dunn.