EagleHerald/Brian Bell
Stephenson’s Bryce Kuehnau attempts a shot as Menominee’s Aiden Bellisle challenges during Friday’s game in Stephenson.
EagleHerald/Brian Bell

Stephenson’s Bryce Kuehnau attempts a shot as Menominee’s Aiden Bellisle challenges during Friday’s game in Stephenson.

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STEPHENSON — Keagan Monroe scored 11 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Menominee boys basketball team in a season-opening win over Stephenson, 60-52 on Friday. 

“We’re happy to come away with a ‘W’,” Menominee coach Sam Larson said. “In the first quarter we had a little bit of jitters. We had some guys playing varsity basketball for the first time and I thought they were a little nervous, but as we got later in the game things started to smooth down.”

Stephenson held a 36-32 lead to start the fourth that was bumped to 38-32 thanks to two free throws from Zach Starzynski. The teams traded baskets until Starzynski sank two from the free throw line to give the Eagles a 44-38 lead with five minutes remaining.

Monroe answered on the other end with a jumper and stole a pass for a fastbreak layup to get Menominee within two at 44-42, forcing Stephenson into taking a timeout. 

“At halftime we made some adjustments and switched to a different zone offense to get Keagan in the middle of the floor a little bit more and that got us some really good looks,” Larson said. “He got some open jumpers and we got a few baseline layups and it worked for us.”

Menominee took its first lead of the game 30 seconds later when Keaton Uecke grabbed his own miss and put it back up for a 45-44 advantage. After Starzynski quickly reclaimed the lead for Stephenson, Aiden Bellisle nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to go up 48-46 with just over two minutes to play. 

Uecke had a big night for the Maroons in his first varsity action. The sophomore had 20 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and had two blocks. 

“Keaton had some big baskets for us in the second half,” Larson said. “When he keeps the ball high he’ll be able to finish because he’s a big kid.”

Starzynski had 12 points in the fourth quarter, and no two baskets were bigger than his next two. On two consecutive possessions, he drove to the basket and finished among taller defenders to help Stephenson reclaim the lead. Uecke tied the game at 50-50 with a basket inside for Menominee and Bellisle’s shot was just off as the buzzer a sounded and overtime began. 

Menominee was the first to score in overtime when Uecke slipped a screen on an out of bounds play and had a wide open layup. After a Stephenson timeout, Bellisle drove the lane and kicked it out to Tyler Kuester waiting in the corner for an open 3-point to go up 55-50 with just over two minutes remaining. 

Monroe nailed a jumper in the lane with 1:35 to play and Stephenson took another timeout to talk things over. Starzynski made two free throws after the timeout, but Monroe made 3-of-5 in the last 40 seconds to put the game away for the Maroons. 

“(Menominee) moving Monroe into the high post changed the game and Uecke had a good game for them down low,” Stephenson coach Eric Panske said. “Even in the locker room the guys talked about being out of place on defense which I wasn’t happy with, but we spend so much time working on it that it’s fixable.”

Menominee opened the game with a bang against the Stephenson 1-3-1 zone defense. Bellisle swung the ball to Brock Barrette on the right wing, freeing the left side of the lane up for Monroe. Barrette threw a perfect pass and Monroe finished with a two-handed dunk.  

“That’s a set play we have and Brock threw a great pass,” Larson said. 

Stephenson forced Menominee into a few turnovers and went on a 12-0 run over the next four minutes. 

“Something that we really wanted to emphasize this year is not just giving effort, but having intensity and really getting after it,” Panske said. “Our 1-3-1 got us some quick buckets right off the bat and that helped. Unfortunately we weren’t able to keep the scoring up.”

After a Menominee timeout with just over three minutes remaining, the Maroons closed the quarter out on a 10-4 run of its own for a 16-12 score in favor of the Eagles. 

“I told our guards (during the timeout) that we had to be a little bit more strong with the basketball,” Larson said. “We were being timid and throwing some air passes and getting some turnovers.”

Starzynski scored seven of his game-high 24 points in the second quarter, but Menominee was able to stick around and go into halftime trailing 27-23 after Bellisle knocked down a three at the halftime buzzer. 

Bellisle scored 11 points and had four assists in his first game on varisty.

Merlin Thoune had 10 points behind Starzynski’s 24.

Menominee’s next game is in Peshtigo on Monday and Stephenson hosts North Central.