The first weekend of December more than 100 people from Put-in-Bay arrived on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan for a couple of days of high school basketball, archery competition, and wonderful fun. The visit was a return match with the Mackinac Island Laker basketball team that came to Put-in-Bay in December 2009. The Lakers were victorious in one of the most exciting high school games ever played on Put-in-Bay. However, their girl’s team was defeated by the Panther ladies with no problem.

Put-in-Bay’s visit to the Laker stronghold, a beautiful first-class gymnasium attached to their school, was just the opposite this time. The Panther Basketball men had no trouble beating their Laker counterparts in two games, one on Friday after the long bus ride to the island from Put-in-Bay, and the other on Saturday evening. In fact, in one of the games, the score was 50-8 at halftime. The win was easy as the Panthers controlled most of the rebounds with their advantage in height, especially with six and a half foot Oliver Thwaite leading the team.

The Lady Panthers Basketball had a rough time and lost two games to a strong Mackinac team, although in one game the ladies were able to come back in the second half and outscore their hosts. Most of the islanders who went to Mackinac Island for the games arrived on Friday afternoon on the Arnold Line’s M/V Huron from St. Ignace on the mainland. Upon arrival, the team’s luggage was taken by dray to Mission Point where they stayed for the weekend. Other islanders stayed at various hotels and B&B’s in the downtown area. There was a community Christmas tree lighting ceremony complete with holiday song singing right on the main street and a Christmas Bazaar at the fire station before everyone headed to the school gym for the first action-packed games.

After the games, there was pizza for the players, plus those islanders who wanted a little fun headed out to the Mustang Lounge, the Village Inn or the island’s Irish pub, Patrick Sinclairs. The first thing the next morning, there was a light breakfast served at St, Anne Church’s beautiful “undercroft” facility. While the school archery team in action, a large group of islanders headed to the Grand Hotel for the first-ever group tour of the deserted-for the- winter landmark and pride of Mackinac. It was fabulous, thanks to tour guide Jason St. Onge. After lunch, there were several shops open, a holiday bazaar auction and more to do. That evening after the games, there was a dance for the students at Mission Point.

Early on Sunday morning, the entire group left the island for the return trip to Put-in-Bay enriched by the hospitality and good times of their experience. A big thank you goes out to everyone on Mackinac Island who made the trip such a joyous and positive experience. Next month we’ll have an article about some of the things Put-in-Bay people found comparing island life on Mackinac to theirs.

Jon Conlin from WPCR Radio in Port Clinton was at the Put-in-Bay Mackinac basketball game in early December broadcasting the play by play action live. Because of the way they broadcast using a computer, they can capture info on those who listened to the game.

Here are some interesting analytics about the listeners: For the Friday game there were 2,911 listeners from the U.S., ten from Canada, two each from Sweden, the UK, and Spain, one each from the Philippines, Israel, Iraq, and the Czech Republic. The breakdown in the U.S. was 2246 listeners in Ohio, 372 in Florida, 193 in Arizona, 16 in Michigan, 12 each in Pennsylvania and Texas, 11 in California, 9 in Indiana, 8 each in Georgia and South Carolina.6 each in North Carolina and Colorado, 5 in New Jersey, 4 in Virginia and 3 in Maryland for a total of an audience of 2,911. For the second game on Saturday, there were 400 more Michigan listeners upping the total listeners to 3,336. WPCR Account Executive Dorothy Henry says thanks to all the island advertisers who made the broadcasts of both games possible.