After getting open near the net, Tyler Stafford cashes in a teammate’s pass during the Wykons’ game against Iron Mountain Jan. 31.
IRON RIVER—Earlier this season, West Iron’s boys basketball team won seven in a row. But Coach Dan Schive was warning that the second half of the season would be much more challenging for the Wykons.
So far, that forecast has been right on the money.
In their only game last week, the Wykons couldn’t keep up with a strong Iron Mountain team (ranked fourth in the “Big Five” poll) at home Jan. 31 and lost to the Mountaineers 52-42.
The defeat drops West Iron’s record to 10-4 (4-2 in West Pac Conference play), and the schedule won’t get any easier in the final month of the season.
After the season ends, the Wykons head for the District 95 tourney, which Iron Mountain will host. Anyone who felt like counting during last week’s game saw that IM had more reserves (eight) than the Wykons had players dressed and able to play (seven).
Caleb Pellizzer scored back-to-back baskets early for a brief Wykon lead, but a 12-2 IM scoring run, including two baskets each by Tyler Thomann and Nate Secinaro, built a 14-6 Mountaineer lead. Ryan Richard’s three and Aran Newby’s two cut the gap to 14-11 after one.
Alex Herman’s triple helped IM build the lead back to six early in the second, but the Wykons rallied on baskets by Waara, Pellizzer, Tyler Stafford and Richard, putting West Iron ahead 21-19 late in the period. IM came back with two hoops and led 23-21 at halftime.
Iron Mountain scored first in the second half, but Adam Newby scored twice, on a fast break and a pretty hook in the lane, tying it at 25-all. That’s when IM broke the game open with a 13-1 blitz, including a three-point play by Thomann and two baskets by Secinaro, the last off a wild scramble.
While the Mountaineers were scoring, West Iron was struggling with traveling calls and other miscues. By one count, the Wykons only had four shots during the Mountaineer rally, which left them ahead 38-26 after three.
After Aren Newby scored to start the fourth quarter, Secinaro converted another three-point play, giving IM its biggest lead of the night, 15 points.
What hurt more is how Secinaro got that basket—it was on the fourth of fifth consecutive IM shot, as the Mountaineers claimed rebound after rebound. Led by Thomann, Iron Mountain was stronger inside and better able to stand its ground.
“They’re just a little more experienced in a bangin’ game,” Schive said later. “And they just killed us on the boards.”
By one count, IM had 22 offensive rebounds. “The outside stuff will take care of itself. But you’ve just got to want to push people out of the way.”
West Iron kept playing hard but couldn’t cut the lead under 10 until the final minutes, when Stafford scored on a rebound and Pellizzer hit a three from the corner.
Coach Schive said his team needs to be more patient in a half-court offense and has to look for open shooters more often instead of trying to force shots when double-teamed.
He said he planned to have his team watch a video of the game, so they can see what they could have done better. “On the good side, I thought their effort was outstanding.”
Pellizzer led the team with 13 points. Stafford and Richard both had seven, followed by Waara with six and Adam Newby with five. Stafford led with six rebounds, and Pellizzer had five. Waara dished our six assists, and Pellizzer was credited with three steals.
Thomann, who scored eight in the fourth quarter, finished with 20 points to lead both teams, Secinaro finished with 11, and Herman had 10.
The Wykons shot 42% from the field (19 of 45). They also made 50% of their free throws—but they only got four chances, making two of them. IM struggled at the line (7 of 19) but still got 15 more freebies than the Wykons.
In their last three games, Schive said, the Wykons have shot 19 free throws, while their opponents have had 57. “And we go to the rim,” he added—so why aren’t the Wykons drawing foul calls?
• The Wykons host Kingsford on Feb. 7 and then will be on the road for four of their final four games. They travel to Calumet on Feb. 10 and to Escanaba next Tuesday, Feb. 14.
M’tneers 14 9 15 14 -- 52
Wykons 11 10 5 16 -- 42