Superior's Plaake lights up Two Eagle River
Superior forward Anthony Mueller tosses up two of his 18 points during Tuesday;s win over Two Eagle River in Superior. (Chuck Bandel/Valley Press)
Anthony Mueller gets Two Eagle River forward Ryiley AfterBuffalo off his feet as he looks for an open teammate Tuesday against the Eagles in Supeior. (Chuck Bandel/Valley Press)
Valley Press | December 29, 2021 12:00 AM
Without a doubt the brightest star in the Superior basketball sky last Tuesday night was Orion.
In this case it was Orion Plaake, the quick, agile 6-1 junior forward for Superior High School’s boys’ basketball team who lit up Two Eagle River for 35 points to propel the Bobcats to a hard-fought 67-50 Western 14C win, which was also their first victory of the year.
With the game just a few seconds old, Plaake buried a long-distance three to give the home team a quick 3-0 lead. It was the first of what would be many points for the guy named after a constellation.
Plaake scored 11 points in the first quarter, including four free throws as the Eagles tried fouling as a means of defending against Plaake’s points outburst.
It was a strategy, intentional or not, that did not work as the Bobcats raced to a 19-9 first quarter lead. Senior forward Anthony Mueller boosted Superior’s first quarter run with six points, most of which were from under the basket where the Bobcats battled the aggressive Eagles throughout the night.
Plaake continued his scoring onslaught in the second quarter, pouring in 10 points, including his second three-pointer of the evening. With tension permeating the Superior gym as the two teams scrapped for every loose ball, the Eagles matched the Bobcats’ second quarter output at 12 apiece.
Heading into the halftime intermission, Superior held a 31-21 lead.
With referee whistles indicating fouls dominating the third quarter, both Plaake and Mueller were forced to take a seat on the bench as foul troubles mounted for both teams.
Plaake sat out most of the third quarter but scored six points in the time he was on the court.
With Plaake reduced to the role of a spectator for most of the third stanza, and Mueller joining him with four fouls of his own, Two Eagle River managed to trim six points off the Superior lead. Heading into the final eight minutes of play, the Bobcats advantage was just four points, 41-37 and it looked like momentum had swung solidly to the Eagles.
A large contingent of fans from Pablo, the Eagles’ home town, stomped and yelled their support as Two Eagle River opened the final quarter with a quick four points to tie the score at 41. Along the way the Bobcats lost the services of Wyatt Haworth, a burly 6-3 post player who committed his fifth foul with just under seven minutes to play.
With Mueller and Plaake back on the court, the tie lasted just a few minutes.
At the 7:03 mark of the quarter, sophomore Owen Doyle, a 5-10 reserve, drilled a three-pointer that broke the Eagles’ surge. The trey would prove to be a crucial shot as Superior quickly regained its earlier offensive and defensive prowess .
A two-point bucket by Mueller that included a successful free throw for being fouled while shooting put the Bobcats in front 47-41. The two teams then traded baskets and free throws, with the Eagles twice pulling to within four points, but it would be the closest they could come.
With 3:02 remaining to be played the Eagles aggressive eighth grade forward Ryiley AfterBuffalo fouled out of the game. The ensuing free throws pushed the Superior lead to 58-48 and the Bobcats went on a 7-0 scoring run to jack their lead to 65-48 with less than a minute to play.
Both Plaake and Mueller scored eight points each in the fourth quarter to help lead the Superior charge that put the game out of the Eagles’ reach.
Plaake finished with a game-high 35 points, including 11 of 19 from the free throw line as the Eagles’ repeatedly tried to halt the junior forward’s drives to the basket with often jarring fouls.
Mueller, who had a strong night collecting rebounds on both ends of the court, tossed in 18 points for the Superior cause.
The win squared Superior’s 14C conference record at 1-1, and was their first victory of the year as they moved to 1-5 overall.
Two Eagle River fell to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
Superior is now on the Christmas break and will return to action Thursday, January 6 when they host conference co-leader St. Regis. Two nights later the Bobcats will travel to Hot Springs for a game with the other 14C leader, Savage Heat, Saturday, January 8.