A busload of Put-in-Bay School Panther basketball players and carloads of Put-in-Bay Mossbacks invaded Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan the ﬁrst weekend of December. The Put-in-Bay Ohio boys and girls teams played the Mackinac Island School Lakers in four exciting games in a tradition going back to 1995 when the two teams ﬁrst played against each other.
When all was said and done, the Friday night games saw the Put-in-Bay Panther boys win by a score of 47 to 29 and the girls win by 22 to 20 over the Lakers. The next morning, the boys duplicated their evening success with a 49 to 41 win, but the Put-in-Bay Panther gals ran into trouble early on and lost their game 32 to 24. The games were especially fun considering both schools needed to fall back on some of their junior high basketball players to round out their rosters. This was especially great for Put-in-Bay thanks to eighth-grader Blake Booker who dominated for the Panthers. His playing was a preview of what’s to come in his Put-in-Bay high school basketball playing career.
At the end of the series, the boys took the recently created Put-in-Bay/Mackinac trophy back to Put-in-Bay. Due to the Laker girls scoring more total points in their two games together, the girl’s trophy stayed on Mackinac. Following the games, there was a trophy award ceremony and promise to share the court together again in the future. If you missed going to Mackinac for the games, you could have enjoyed the games broadcast by broadcaster Patrick Myers at Tipper’s on the ﬂat screen thanks to Joe Foutts.
For the Panthers and the Put-in-Bay Mossbacks, there was more to do on Mackinac Island than just watch the games. The Put-in-Bay students had a tour of Fort Mackinac which overlooks the village. It was followed by lunch in the Mackinac Island school cafeteria, a tour of the school and a robotics demonstration by the Laker students. They later joined the Put-in-Bay Mossbacks for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Grand Hotel, something most Mackinac islanders never get a chance to do. After the tour, it was off to see the lighting of the town Christmas tree and some Christmas carol singing.
For a little shopping fun, the Mackinac Island ﬁre department was holding its annual fundraiser rummage sale. It was kind of a two-day Put-in-Bay ReSale Shop free for all on steroids. More than one Put-in-Bay Mossback came home with a bag of goodies at a great price. On Saturday after the game, lunch was again served at school for the Put-in-Bay Panthers. Most left room in their stomachs for some fudge sampling at Joann’s Fudge shop on Mackinac’s main street. This was followed by a hayride to the Grand Carriage Museum, the island’s famous landmarks, the Arch and Sugarloaf. For those who stayed in the village, there was a fundraiser auction and bazaar. The bazaar was similar to what the Put-in-Bay Mossbacks had in their own Town Hall a few days after returning to South Bass Island.
After some great meals at a couple of the island’s watering holes, a few or more bottles of wine, so much picture taking to bring down social media and a lot of socializing with island friends who you rarely get to see except when you go to Mackinac, the weekend was pronounced a success. A big thank you goes out to the Mackinac community for its hospitality, to the Star Line for the discounted ferry tickets and the extra trip off the island on Sunday morning, all the Mackinac Island school ofﬁcials and students, to Mission Point for providing accommodations for the Panthers, plus to Jason St. Onge from the Grand Hotel who conducted the tour of the world-famous hotel and to all those who helped with the tours of the island and the hayride for the Put-in-Bay Mossbacks.