I t was a bit of a culture shock when Jared Lawson moved to Houghton. He was accustomed to a community that rallies around its basketball team every winter — where it’s never a doubt the bleachers will fill for every Friday night home game, and you’re the talk of the town on a regular basis. That’s the kind of environment he witnessed as a member of the Westwood Patriots’ semifinal run.
But in Houghton, the majority of boys grow up with hockey sticks in their hands. They dream of the NHL and many of the best athletes make the decision to choose hockey over basketball at a young age. It can put Houghton’s basketball program at an athletic disadvantage when compared to other large schools in the UP where hockey is not as prominent.
That’s the reality Lawson has wrestled with since taking over at Houghton. He’s searched for solutions and attempted different styles, all while trying to discover Houghton’s own identity that can succeed against basketball-oriented opponents.
That identity was fully manifested on Friday.
Even Virginia’s Tony Bennett would have been proud of Houghton’s 1-2-2 pack line defense in Friday’s 43-33 win over Westwood. The Gremlins held the Patriots to 10 of 33 shooting (30 percent) and Westwood was never able to get in a rhythm down the stretch against Houghton’s interior zone defense.