The Trojans’ Kody Thrasher tries to get to the basket, but West Iron’s Ryan Richard is right in his path and Austin Waara (30) is closing in during second quarter action Dec. 12.
IRON RIVER—After a long scoring drought finally ended, West Iron County’s boys basketball team took control of its game at Forest Park Dec. 12, earning its first win of the season 55-48.
The Wykons opened their West Pac Conference season Dec. 15 with a 67-58 win over L’Anse in its home debut. They enter this week with a 2-1 record, 1-0 in the West Pac.
The Wykons started slowly at Forest Park, as two baskets by Austin Snell and one by Jake Divine got the Trojans an early 6-0 lead.
Just as quickly, West Iron was in front—Ryan Richard converted Kahree Beaudrie’s pass, and Austin Waara popped in a three. When Caleb Pellizzer converted a three-point play, the Wykons led 8-7.
WIC led 15-13 after one and 19-13 early in the second frame, but suddenly the Trojans were on the attack. Baskets by Snell and Divine started it, and Tyler Lovato’s three put the Trojans in front 20-19.
Waara hit another Wykon three, but L.J. Burns got it right back. Burns’ follow and a free throw made it a 25-20 Trojan lead at halftime, and the home side still wasn’t done.
Divine opened the second half with a two, followed by threes from Lovato and Michael Smithson. The Trojans’ 20-3 run put the home team ahead 33-22. Wykons Coach Dan Schive said he was thinking about calling time, “but you’ve got to test their character somewhere along the line.”
He got his chance when Pellizzer nailed a three-pointer around. After the time-out, Pellizzer hit a jumper and then another—plus one. His eight consecutive points cut FP’s big lead down to three, 39-36, after three quarters. “He’s a senior,” said his coach later. “Isn’t that his job?
Lovato made another three early in the fourth quarter, but Beaudrie and Richard combined for two WIC hoops. Next, Adam Newby got fouled (Lovato’s fifth), made both free throws, got the ball back and scored on a fast break, putting the Wykons ahead 44-42.
Two Beaudrie buckets, a Waara fast break and Newby’s baseline shot put the Wykons ahead 52-46 with two minutes left. Kody Thrasher’s hoop briefly got FP within four, but the Trojans had to foul, and free throws wrapped up West Iron’s win.
“Pellizzer’s a good ballplayer,” FP Coach Chris Nocerini said. “He did an outstanding job, and my hat’s off to him and Coach Schive.
“They didn’t fall apart, they held together, waited for their opportunity and took advantage of it.”
Pellizzer led the Wykons with 18 points, including 10 in the third quarter. Newby had 12 (six in the fourth quarter), Waara had 11 and Richard and Beaudrie both scored seven.
For the well-balanced Trojans, Lovato and Divine both scored nine points, Snell added eight, and Thrasher had seven.
Schive said West Iron struggled against FP’s zone, turning the ball over too often. “It’s hard to play against a zone if you don’t get proper movement,” he said. “It took us until the fourth quarter to get into the middle of the zone.”
He cited Richard’s play in his first start and the effort by Ryan Rogers and Alex Ralston off the bench. “We don’t have a whole lot of guys, so everybody’s got to go as much as they can.”
Against L’Anse on Dec. 15, West Iron had impressive offensive bursts alternating with dry spells that kept the Purple Hornets in the game.
The stubborn Hornets never led and trailed by as much as 16 but battled hard all night. They got within three early in the second half, and were within six in the final minute.
Newby’s seven early points got WIC off to an early 9-0 lead, and Pellizzer scored nine in the first quarter. The Wykons led 24-14 after one and 30-19 midway through the second quarter.
Then came “four minutes of really dumb basketball” (according to Schive), as a 9-3 L’Anse rally cut the lead to 33-28 at halftime.
James Veker’s hoop made it a three-point game early in the second half, but WIC went on a 15-2 run and led by 16 (48-32) late in the third. Then West Iron backed off, and L’Anse stepped up with a 15-4 run that got them within five, 50-45, with five minutes left to play.
Down the stretch, Pellizzer and Rogers scored key points to blunt the Hornets’ momentum. The Wykons led by 10 with 1:44 left, but Keith Denomie’s three and two baskets by Veker cut the gap to six with 56 seconds left. It was free throws after that.
It would have been over earlier if the Wykons, who made 11 of 13 free throws in the first three quarters, didn’t struggle with 11 of 20 in the fourth.
Schive said his team plays too fast when it had a lead—leading to forced shots and turnovers. “We need to control our emotions. We try to play fast, but there’s a point when you have to back off a little and be more careful.”
Pellizzer’s 23 led the Wykons. Beaudrie scored 12, Richard and Waara both had 10, and Newby scored seven.
Pellizzer led with 10 rebounds, Beaudrie had 10 boards, and Richard pulled down eight. Beaudrie blocked six shots, and Pellizzer had four steals.
Veker, a sophomore, was a big headache for the Wykons, scoring 10 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. Jacob Ostermeyer had seven of his 10 in the fourth.
• The Wykons will be busy boys during the holiday season. They visited Houghton Dec. 19 and host Norway on Dec. 22.
Escanaba visits the Greenlund Gym on Dec. 29, and the team will start 2012 with a visit to North Dickinson Jan. 2.
Wykons 15 7 14 19 -- 55
Trojans 13 12 14 9 -- 48
P.Hornets 14 14 6 24 -- 58
Wykons 24 9 15 19 -- 67