Boys basketball: Northmen win Throwback Game
Petoskey senior Joe Robbins (24) works toward the basket Monday in a 68-51 non-league win over Cheboygan. (Steve Foley/News-Review)
Fitting props for a pair of Petoskey High School basketball players who could play on any Northmen team of any era.
Particularly one that is off to the second-best start in school history.
Robbins scored 20 points and Lewis added 16 Monday as the Northmen topped much-improved Cheboygan, 68-51, on Throwback Night at the Central School gym.
The win lifted Petoskey to 15-0, and it gives the Northmen the second-best start in school history behind only the 1925-26 team that finished 19-1, its only loss coming in a Class B state semifinal.
“We try to think one game at a time,” Lewis said. “We’re not even close to thinking about 20-0 right now. We’ve got five more games to get there. One win at a time. We’ve got (Traverse City) West next and that’ll be a huge game for us. We don’t want to let up.”
The Northmen, who already own a share of the Big North Conference championship, can wrap up the outright league title on Friday, Feb. 10, with a win at West. Petoskey is 9-0 in the conference with three league games to play. The Titans and Cadillac share second place, both at 6-3.
Petoskey is gunning for its third consecutive league title, and it goes into Friday’s game riding a 29-game Big North win streak. Monday’s win over the Chiefs was Petoskey’s 38th consecutive at home.
West’s loss last week at Alpena gave the Northmen a piece of the league crown.
“A little pressure taken off,” Robbins said of that turn of events. “But you still have that pressure of staying perfect in the league. We don’t take anything lightly, and that’s just one goal of many.”
The theme for Monday’s game at the venerable Central School gym was the 1950s.
Robbins’ choice of eyewear gave him a Buddy Holly look. His game, though, was more reminiscent of Shaq. All of his buckets came from within a step or two of the basket, the result of offensive rebounds or simply working it inside. He made seven of his nine field goal attempts — one of his two misses was a top-of-the-key 3-point try that went in and out — and he grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, four on the offensive end.
“I thought they might mess up my game,” Robbins said of his glasses. “But I didn’t even notice them. I totally zoned them out. I think they’ll be an every-game thing. I’m not making any promises. You never know.”
Whatever works. And if Robbins could hit for 20 — just three below the career-high 23 he scored against Gaylord two weeks ago — every time out, Northmen coach Dennis Starkey likely would have no qualms.
“Joe bailed us out,” said Starkey, whose team made just five of its 21 3-point attempts and finished 22-of-50 from the floor overall. “His better games seem to come when we don’t shoot it well. He gets offensive rebounds and gets scores inside, and he kept this game from getting closer than what it did, and that was because of the way he played inside.”
The Northmen used a 20-3 run spanning the first and second quarters to build a 31-13 advantage midway through the second. Robbins capped the spurt with a good old-fashioned three-point play — what else on Throwback Night? — midway through the second quarter.
It appeared then that Petoskey was on its way to yet another blowout win against a team it had easily handled, 69-26, in the first meeting on Dec. 13.
The Northmen slowly added to their advantage, stretching it 24, 55-31, late in the third quarter on a pair of Sam Baumgartner free throws. Baumgartner finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
But the Chiefs, 5-8, chipped away and used a 10-0 run that began late in the third and ended early in the fourth to draw within 12, 55-43, with 4 minutes, 51 seconds to play.