The Wykons’ Caleb Pellizzer twists his body around as he lines up a shot between two Norway defenders during West Iron’s 64-35 win.
IRON RIVER—Something or someone threw a switch during the third quarter of West Iron’s boys game against Norway Dec. 22, and Coach Dan Schive wants to know where it is.
All of a sudden, the Wykons, who had kept just ahead of the Knights for most of the night, exploded on offense, outscoring Norway 40-11 in the last quarter and a half to win 64-35.
“It’s hard to read kids,” Schive shrugged after the game. “You never know sometimes what you’re going to get.
“But I told them after the game, you cannot take that long to get into a rhythm. If you play good teams and it takes 2½ quarters to get started, you’re in deep trouble.”
The Wykons got that good start at Houghton Dec. 19 and held off a late Gremlins rally for a 49-45 win. West Iron is now 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the West Pac Conference.
At Houghton, Schive said the Wykons played well for most of the night, switching defenses as needed. “Probably our best defensive game of the year: We closed out well, and we rebounded well.”
Caleb Pellizzer had a big night, leading all scorers with 20 points. His 14 in the first half boosted the Wykons to a 28-21 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Gremlins switched to a 2-3 zone focused more on Pellizzer. “We switched right away to a 3-1-1 and got good shots.” Kahrie Beaudrie and Ryan Richard carried the offense after that. The Wykons outscored Houghton 13-5 in the third to lead 41-26.
They still led by 15 with five minutes left, but Houghton wasn’t through. “They spread us out and went man-to-man and made a run on us.” Several fouls put the Gremlins on the free throw line. “We got a little undisciplined and put them on the line too much.” Houghton made 7 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter, 11 of 21 in the game.
The Gremlins didn’t get closer than six until they hit a shot at the final horn, making it a four-point win.
Pellizzer’s 20 points led the team, followed by nine from Beaudrie, seven from Adam Newby and six from Richard. West Iron shot 43% from the floor.
Stats: Beaudrie, 14 rebounds, five blocks and two assists. Pellizzer, six rebounds, four assists, three steals. Stafford, Newby and Richard combined for 11 rebounds.
Zach Ohtonen led Houghton with 19 points, eight in the fourth quarter, but Schive liked how David Baillargeon was held to four points. “Philly [Richard] and Stafford played really good on him. When we needed help, Newby came from the back side.
“Everybody’s doing their job. We’ve just got to keep improving every game.”
Against Norway, Pellizzer scored six early points to get the Wykons away to a 10-4 start. But Norway kept closing the gap, and it was 12-9 after one. Pellizzer’s triple made it a 19-11 Wykon lead, but Norway only trailed 21-16 at halftime.
“We just passed and stood there,” Schive said. “We just didn’t get into a feel.” It’s an old story: Norway slowed the game way down on offense, and monkey see, monkey do—the Wykons were deliberate, too.
Free throws and Michael Bal’s three closed the gap to two during the third quarter. But with the Wykons ahead only 24-22, Austin Waara popped in a three—and the floodgates opened. Stafford scored and Beaudrie put in a dunk. Pellizzer’s lay-up made it 33-22, and Norway wanted time.
But you’d best keep out of the path of a cattle stampede, and the Wykon offense was unleashed. After Pellizzer hit two free throws, Richard scored, and another Beaudrie slam made it 39-22 after three. Beaudrie started the fourth quarter with two more baskets and then two free throws. Another Waara three made it 48-22. Two Norway free throws finally ended the Wykons’ 24-point run.
It wasn’t all good news, though: Pellizzer rolled an ankle near the end of the third quarter. He put weight on it as he walked to the locker room unaided. While he reappeared on crutches later, it didn’t seem to be anything serious for the team’s floor leader.
Norway was minus several starters, and Schive liked Knights point guard Alex Ocasio, who led the team with 14 points. Michael Zygiel scored 12.
Despite his early exit, Pellizzer led the team with 19 points. Beaudrie added 16 (10 in the fourth quarter). Richard and Waara both scored eight, and Stafford added six.
Stats: Richard led with 11 rebounds; Beaudrie had 10 boards, seven blocks and three steals; and Pellizzer had seven rebounds and four steals. “For not really stressing a whole lot on the defensive end, we’re doing all right,” Schive noted.
But the coach would really like to find that switch that unleashes the Wykons’ potential. “We’ve got to be ready to go from the gun.”
• The Wykons won’t get much rest over the holidays. They host Escanaba this Thursday, Dec. 29, before visiting North Dickinson on Jan. 2. Beaudrie will miss the Esky game (visiting family), and Pellizzer may have to rest his ankle.
The team finally gets a little break before starting a four-game home stand. First up: Florence on Jan. 10.
Wykons 12 16 13 8 -- 49
Gremlins 9 12 5 19 -- 45
Knights 9 7 6 13 -- 35
Wykons 12 9 18 25 -- 64