Lane has career night for Pirates

Macks Creek sophomore Hunter Lane has a fitting last name because the lane belonged to him Monday night.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore dominated inside the paint, putting up a career-high 34 points and 16 rebounds for a double-double performance that helped the Pirates take down Hermitage 80-71 on Senior Night.

“It is really fun to get a career high and that is probably around a career high in rebounds too,” Lane said after the game. “It is fun to get the ball in the post, go to work and have all that contact and finish.

And did the basket appear to get bigger each time the ball fell through the hoop?

“I should have finished a few more free throws tonight, but overall it went well,” Lane said with a smile. “It looked a little bit bigger every time.”

The night went pretty well for his teammates, too. Macks Creek never trailed in the game, taking a 12-10 first quarter lead and stretching it to 35-24 by halftime. Hermitage managed to cut the deficit to six early in the third quarter, but the Pirates extended the advantage back up to 16 by the start of the fourth.

“Rebounding is key and we did not get in our own heads,” Lane said of holding off the Hornets. “We kept our heads straight and played well.”

Macks Creek junior Zane Whitworth knocked down 20 points, senior Braden Bowman put up 14 and fellow senior Justin Register recorded nine for the Pirates.

Macks Creek managed to move up and down the floor quickly and often for some easy fast break points and had little trouble finding the open man as well as the Pirates utilized crisp, sharp passes to keep Hermitage on its heels.

“The main thing we try to focus on is trying to be comfortable with the ball and not trying to rush (things) too much,” Bowman said of the team’s offensive strategy. “We’ve had spots throughout the year where we turned the ball over way too much throughout the season... and did not do so well rebounding from time to time, but it allowed us to go through and be fluid.”

And getting a win on Senior Night is something Bowman and Register will gladly accept.

“It was awesome. It is a great feeling to come out with a ‘W’ and especially after the loss on Friday against Fair Play,” Bowman pointed out. “We came, took care of business and came out with a ‘W.’”

And while the win will certainly be enjoyed, there is always room for improvement and that is precisely what Macks Creek intends to focus on before the district tournament gets underway.

“One of our goals last night was to get multiple touches in the paint and I thought the boys did a good job of making that priority No. 1 when they got the ball,” Macks Creek coach Brett Case stated. “I thought our defense was good at times last night, but we also had some stretches where our defense was lackluster.”

The Pirates will also look to significantly cut down the turnovers as well after finishing with a total of 27 Monday night. However, one thing that was not lacking was energy.

“We didn’t rebound or take care of the ball very well so we need to make sure we clean those two things up before next week. Overall, I thought the boys gave a good effort, which is one of the things we ask of them every night,” Case noted.

Macks Creek (8-13) was scheduled to visit Halfway Tuesday night and host Crocker on Friday at 6 p.m., for the regular season finale. The Pirates will be looking to fire on all cylinders before the district tournament gets underway with a first round battle against host Wheatland on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

“It was a district opponent so we’ll take all the wins we can get against district competitors. Tomorrow is going to be a tough one against Halfway, but it was a definite boost against our district,” Bowman said Monday night. “It is a very tough, but winnable district as said by most coaches so we shall see.”