The frigid temperatures as of late have had absolutely no effect on Jonathan Jurries’ jump shot. The Lakeland senior was red hot Friday, Feb. 1 at Tomahawk and he torched the Hatchets with 32 points, including six three pointers, to lead the Thunderbirds to an 85-60 win.

“You just shake your head. A couple times on the bench I’m just shaking my head,” Lakeland head coach Rich Fortier, who was in awe of Jurries’ performance, said.  

But to start the game Fortier was shaking his head out of frustration.

Tomahawk began the game with three straight three-pointers and before a minute of basketball had been played the Thunderbirds were down 9-0.  

But Lakeland took the punch in the teeth, shook it off and instead of continuing to get rolled they went right after the Hatchets with a full court press.

The increased pressure picked up the pace of the game and not only rattled Tomahawk ball handlers into committing turnovers, it kept them from being able to set up good shots.

After Tomahawk’s initial barrage, Lakeland came right back with seven unanswered of their own and, in conjunction with the press, they then began quickly pushing the ball up the court, keeping Tomahawk defenders on their heels. The result was wide open shots for Lakeland.

“There were some times where we really imposed our will with our pressure and with our getting out and running,” Fortier said. “And, of course Jonny’s extremely timely shooting, which just happened again and again. I don’t even know if it’s timely. It’s just all the time.”

Jurries hit four three pointers in the first half and Collin Quade hit two from deep, and down low Michael Ouimette was a force, scoring nine first half points.  

That hot shooting, combined with an onslaught of transition lay-ups off the press, gave Lakeland a 46-26 half time lead.

Fortier credits his team’s aggressiveness with the press for establishing control of the game.

“It creates a mindset. We really want to make our guys play fast defensively  where we’re hard and hungry on the defensive end, that can create offense,” Fortier said. “We got some break outs. We’ve been working hard on pushing the ball up the floor quickly. It was a good game to do that. That leads to good offense. It leads to tenacious sticky defense and then it leads to open looks and it just gets us scoring faster and I like it.”

Tomahawk, which hit nine three-pointers in the game, would not roll over in the second half, however. Early in the second they got hot from deep again and with the help of four three-pointers the Hatchets went on a 14-4 run and cut a twenty point Lakeland lead to ten, and with 10 minutes to play the score was 58-48 Lakeland.

But the T-Birds then resumed their hot shooting, continued to press on defense, and pushed the ball on offense, working their transition game beautifully as they answered with a 13-0 run to reestablish control.

Lakeland would never look back and take the game 85-60.

“They kept making it kind of interesting,” Fortier said. “When push came to shove and we had to start making plays we did. A lot of that was just predicated on getting out in their fast break. I mean we really got out and got some easy looks, easy layups on the other end. We had some good stuff happen.”

Jurries led Lakeland and all scorers with 32.  Michael Ouimette had 17 and Collin Quade had 12 for the T-Birds.

Drew Bolder and Cole Feest each had 14 to lead Tomahawk.

With the win, Lakeland improves to 9-7 overall and 5-3 in the Great Northern Conference, where they have sole possession of second place behind 8-0 Mosinee.

The T-Birds next play Medford at home on Friday at 7:15 p.m.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.