Boys Basketball: Pequot Lakes makes it 11 in a row with win over Staples-Motley

Pequot Lakes hosts Staples-Motley in boys basketball Feb. 23

Pequot players passes the ball while jumping in the air.
Pequot Lakes' Eli Laposky passes the ball against Staples-Motley on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Pequot Lakes High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

PEQUOT LAKES — It wasn’t pretty, but Pequot Lakes got it done Thursday, Feb. 23.

Gavin Kennen led the way with 18 points to help the Patriots get a 44-39 Mid-State Conference and Section 7-2A win against the Staples-Motley Cardinals.

Eli Laposky added 10 to be the only other Patriot in double figures.

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Pequot Lakes vs. Maple River in the Class 2A State Consolation Finals Thursday, March 23.

The game was moved to a 4:30 p.m. start with the referees making it onto the floor after the starting lineups were announced.

“It was a little bit of a scramble for everyone,” Pequot Lakes head coach Rich Spiczka said. “It was an unorthodox pregame, but it was an unorthodox pregame for them, too. It was one of those things where you have to adapt and I thought from the start we did fine.”


Staples-Motley held a 19-17 lead at half after forcing the Patriots to shoot 29% from the field and 12.5% from 3-point in the first half.

“We had a few too many empty possessions,” Spiczka said. “We had a string of turnovers and shot poorly. It was one of those things which is hard to overcome. They are sound on defense and we couldn’t turn them over. It was one of those things where when the ball doesn’t go in the hoop, basketball gets hard.”

Pequot started the game on a 10-1 run before a long scoring drought helped the Cardinals go on a 19-3 run.

“Our plan going into the game was to take care of the ball offensively and make some shots,” Staples-Motley head coach Cy Bestland said. “In the first few minutes, we didn’t hit anything. Then once shots started to fall we needed them to miss some shots and us to get the rebound.”

Isaiah Schultz led the Cardinals with 17 points. Avandre Brandt provided 11 points off the bench for the Cardinals including eight in the first half.

“Isaiah has been our guy all year when he’s healthy,” Bestland said. “The other kids trust him to make plays.”

The Cardinals sat in a 1-2-2 zone most of the game.

“In that particular defense, Schultz is our top guy and he basically has no rules,” Bestland said. “Isaiah is supposed to mess up the other team as best he can and he's a really good athlete with good instincts.”


With the score tied at 24, Pequot finally caught fire from 3-point to stretch the Cardinal zone.

Clay Erickson hit two 3-pointers as did Brayden Spicka and after a Kennen baseline dunk the Patriots led 39-29 with four minutes left.

“They play really conservatively,” Spiczka said of Staples-Motley’s zone. “They are going to let you shoot 3s. You have to move the ball to find them and we didn’t make many in the first half. We got a spurt there in the middle of the second half to give us some cushion.”

Basketball players compete.
Staples-Motley's Alex Schultz shoots the ball against Pequot Lakes on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Pequot Lakes High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

S-M had one more run in them as back-to-back 3-pointers made it 39-35 with two minutes left. Grant Loge made four straight free throws, his only points of the game, to close out the win.

The win is the Patriots’ 11th in a row. Pequot now stands 6-1 in conference play and 10-0 in section play.

The Patriots have four games left before they look to defend their Section 7-2A title in the playoffs.

“The biggest thing is we have to play our basketball and the level we expect to be at every night regardless of who we are playing,” Spiczka said. “Some nights we do and some nights we don’t. That has to be consistent.”

Staples-Motley 19 20 — 39

Pequot Lakes 17 27 — 44


Hunter Miller 1, Isaiah Schultz 17, Eli Rutten 3, Alex Schultz 2, Dakota Hennagir 5, Avandre Brandt 11. FG 15-46 (32.6%), FT 2-4 (50%). 3-point 7-25 (28%).


Eli Laposky 10, Clay Erickson 6, Gavin Kennen 18, Grant Loge 4, Brayden Spiczka 6. FG 14-42 (33%), FT 10-13 (77%). 3-point 6-27 (22%).

Pequot Lakes 44, Staples-Motley 39

Key: Patriots make enough plays in the second half to win.
Conference: PL 6-1, SM 2-6.
Section: PL 10-0, SM 2-6.
Overall: PL 17-5, SM 9-13.
Next: Pequot Lakes hosts Moose Lake-Willow River 7:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24; Staples-Motley hosts Crosby-Ironton 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.


CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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