As Jaclyn Waara (23) drives to the net, Alexis Heimerl sets up a nice screen during the game against Iron Mountain on Dec. 6.
IRON RIVER—For a few minutes early in their game here Dec. 6, West Iron’s offense slipped a gear and fell into a lull. But it didn’t last long.
The Wykon girls had no trouble dominating Iron Mountain 68-49 in their only game last week. After all, when Jaclyn Waara scores 32 points and everyone else is also contributing, it makes for an easy win.
That made it a fun night for the Wykons, Coach Mike Dallavalle (now 2-0 overall, 1-0 West Pac) and their fans.
West Iron led 34-22 at halftime and then bombed the Mountaineers with a 24-10 third quarter. They connected on four three-pointers in the third quarter and finished the night with 10—six by Waara.
It was a foul-fest, too, as the refs kept blowing their whistles—44 times for fouls. Twenty-eight of them were on the Wykons, and three girls fouled out. It resulted in 45 free throws, 26 by IM, but the freebies didn’t have much effect on the outcome.
Those 10 three-pointers did. Waara hit the first to start the game and added another as the Wykons jumped away to a 11-2 lead in the opening minutes.
Then came the lull. Several missed WIC shots and fouls gave IM its chance to slice into the lead. Slice they did. Abbie Simone’s three cut the big lead down to 13-11 and prompted Coach Dallavalle to call time.
“I think they had a little size advantage on us down low early on,” he said. IM briefly tied it at 15 and only trailed 17-15 after one quarter.
“We weren’t executing real well, and defensively we kind of laid off. We wanted to pressure their guards to keep the ball out of Gingras’ hands. But they picked it up pretty quickly in the second quarter.”
They did. Waara started with three from the top. Megan Miatech buried two free throws. Waara hit two more threes from the left side. The two-point lead was up to 13, 28-15. No more baskets before halftime, but 6-for-6 free-throw shooting helped West Iron to a 34-22 lead at the intermission.
IM got the first points of the second half, but the Wykons kept rolling, Shannon Koski’s lay-up. Waara for three. Koski on a pass from Joanna Pellizzer. Kylee Erickson for three. Koski from Waara. Waara for two. Waara for three. Waara on a follow of her own miss.
By now, the senior guard was up to 28 points. A lay-up late in the quarter got her to 30, and Koski’s three put West Iron ahead by 26, 58-32, after three.
Dallavalle said the Wykons’ fast break worked well. “We were finding open people and attacking the basket all night long. That’s important for these girls—they like to keep the pace at a higher level.”
Outside of Erickson’s third triple of the night and one final Waara basket (points 31 and 32, off Erickson’s assist), the fourth quarter was mostly Wykon fouls (eight) and IM free throws (7 of 14).
Miatech, Emily Aho and Alexis Heimerl all fouled out before it was over. But despite all the fouls and IM free throws, the Wykons’ lead never fell below 18.
Waara’s 32-point night (by quarters: 10-11-9-2) was not her career best—she scored 38 against Florence last season. “That was quite a performance,” Dallavalle said. “The girls knew she had a hot hand, and got the ball to her.”
West Iron got more scoring from Koski (12), Erickson (11, including three triples) and Heimerl (six). At the free throw line, WIC made 14 of 19. For IM, Rikki Gingras and Danielle Flannery scored 12 each.
Iron Mountain had a 52-47 rebounding edge, especially in the first half. “They were getting to loose balls better and grabbing offensive rebounds. But we adjusted at halftime and got more aggressive after those loose balls.”
On defense, Joanna Pellizzer and Emilie Christensen got tips off West Iron’s press, and the team broke up IM’s passing lanes. “They were flying all over the court,” said Dallavalle. “That’s the most I think we’ve tipped passes in a long time.
“We weren’t really good last year at helping down and rotating over when somebody got beat. Tonight, they did that really well and got a lot of tips.”
Heimerl. Miatech and Christensen all came off the bench and boosted the team’s rebounding and defense, and Taylor Miilu came in for the guards when they needed a rest. “Overall,” said the coach, “that was a good team effort from everybody tonight.”
• The Wykons visit Norway on Dec. 12 and then it’s the early West Pac showdown at Houghton on Dec. 16. A home game against Kingsford Dec. 19 is the Wykons’ last before the holiday break.
M’tneers 15 7 10 17 -- 49
Wykons 17 17 24 10 -- 68