By JUSTIN ST. OURS
Escanaba Daily Press

CARNEY - It was exactly the way Carney-Nadeau boys coach Paul Polfus would’ve liked to start the Division 4 district tournament as the U.P.’s fourth-ranked Wolves took control in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit lead from the second quarter through the rest of the game to earn a 59-37 home victory over Forest Park Monday.

The Wolves (14-7) led just 7-6 after four minutes had gone by in the first quarter before Max Baumler picked off a pass and drove to the hoop for a layup. A minute later, Brett LaFord hit his second triple of the night to extend their lead to 12-6.

“We executed some things pretty well tonight,” Polfus said. “We did a better job getting to the basket tonight than we have and not just settling for 3s all the time.”

The Trojans (9-12) added a single free throw from Tommy Peltoma with just over a minute left, but Baumler dropped in a buzzer-beating triple to stretch the Wolves’ lead to 15-7 at the end of the first quarter.

“I think early on their pressure got to us,” Trojans coach Kurt Lehmann said. “I think we got a couple boards right away, and we didn’t handle it. We gave them some second-chance opportunities, and those are things you can’t do against good teams. Even if you get defensive stops, if you give it back with those turnovers, that affects us. It’s not just the score but our mental state.”

After LaFord put Carney ahead by 10 with a layup a minute into the second, the Trojans went on a 6-2 run thanks to four points from Tommy Showers to cut their deficit to 19-13, but the Wolves reignited before entering the half.

Baumler once again provided a spark by scoring to kick off an 11-2 run that gave the Wolves a 30-15 halftime lead.

The Wolves then maintained their double-digit advantage the rest of the way.

“Earlier in the year, we’d have lulls (in our scoring),” Polfus said. “Tonight we stayed pretty consistent, especially once we got the second half going.

“I was pretty pleased with our effort on both ends of the floor. We only had six turnovers for the game. I thought we rebounded fairly well.”

LaFord led the Wolves with 26 points and eight rebounds.

“(Brett) played with a lot of energy,” Polfus said. “He was very high-energy, and he did a good job running our offense.

“I thought Mike Flanagan played a great game. Beau Koffman was great defensively. Max Baumler handled the ball well. It was pretty much a team effort. Overall, I thought everyone contributed one way or another.”

The Trojans were led by Showers with 17 points.

“The wins and losses weren’t where we wanted them to be this year, but I’m still really proud of them,” Lehmann said. “They came in and did everything I asked. They fought day in and day out even when morale was low.”

Carney goes on to host Stephenson Wednesday in the district semifinals at 7 p.m. EDT.

“Stephenson is kind of the same team (Forest Park) is,” Polfus said. “We have to keep (their point guard) under control. We have to keep the pace of the game under our control, and we have to keep doing the same kind of stuff we did tonight.”

FOREST PARK (37) — Showers 17, Johnson 6, Scarlassara 5, Peltoma 4, Bendick 2, Emmers 1, Franz 1, Kopf 1. FTs: 8-16.

CARNEY-NADEAU (59) — B. LaFord 26, Baumler 9, Koffman 9, J. LaFord 9, Flanagan 4, Kakuk 2. FTs: 3-7.

Halftime score: C-N 30, Forest Park 15