IRON RIVER—In its last regular season game, West Iron’s boys team needed about a quarter to figure out what Ishpeming was doing.
Once they did, they were “in the zone,” outscoring the Hematites in each of the final three quarters to earn a 64-55 victory. With the win, the Wykons’ finish the regular season 13-7 overall. They were 5-3 in the West Pac Conference.
A defense known as “egg” cracked the Hematites hopes for a win. Coach Dan Schive said West Iron threw five different zones at Ishpeming out of two sets. “We didn’t play one single second of man. But our zone is kind of a man, which I think is confusing people. We run it as a 2-3 matchup.
“I’m not quite sure how we run it, either. That’s why we call it ‘egg,’ because that’s what it is, just a scramble 2-3 matchup. Once they hear ‘egg,’ then they have to scramble around and cover whoever’s in your area.”
At first, Ishpeming had the upper hand: Alex Briones scored six to lead the Hematites to a 18-12 lead after one.
“It took us a few minutes,” Schive said, “to make the adjustments we needed to make to stop what they were doing,” At one point, the Wykons trailed by nine.
By then, post players Tyler Stafford and Andy Ridolphi were on the bench after picking up two fouls each. What to do?
“We went to five guards,” Schive said, “and I put Adam [Newby] and Caleb [Pellizzer] down on the block and ran our ‘best friends’ set.
Newby and Pellizzer had both scored only two points in the first quarter, but they came alive in the second—Pellizzer with six points and Newby with seven. “We had them both down low and then run our stuff out of that. It worked out really nice.
“They [the Hematites] got a little confused on who to guard” with WIC’s starting guards stationed near the basket. Eventually, Ishpeming’s big players went outside.
West Iron outscored the Hematies 15-10 in the second quarter and only trailed 28-27 at halftime. In the second half, they took the lead and slowly pulled away.
“I told them coming out of halftime, ‘Let’s get a steal and a bucket right away.’ And we got a steal and a bucket right away.” He couldn’t remember who. “But they did what I asked.”
Pellizzer scored eight in the third quarter and Austin Waara scored seven, as the Wykons led 48-41 after three. In the fourth quarter, Stafford led WIC with seven, and Pellizzer had five more.
The Wykons made hay at the free throw line: making 14 for 18 in the second half. Ishpeming made 10 free throws in the first half but went 0 for 4 in the second half.
Schive said that he was surprised when the Hematites didn’t go after the WIC guards after they fell behind. West Iron took advantage by working the ball around the outside until they saw a gap. “Then we’d attack, and we got a layup or a free throw out of it.”
The offense? “It’s read, react and shoot it. I’m not going any farther than that, because half the time I don’t know where they’re going.
“But they ran it so smooth. We ran the back cuts, we dropped off passes, we hit the open cutters, we hit the open post people. It was really nice. We actually ran the offense the way it’s supposed to be run, and it all worked out.”
Pellizzer’s 21 points led the Wykons, while both Newby and Waara scored 13. Stafford added nine more nine. “Everybody played pretty well.”
West Iron only turned over the ball 10 times and, according to Schive’s stat sheet, shot 21 for 37—57%. Rebound leaders were Stafford (10) and Pellizzer (eight). Waara dished out seven assists, Stafford blocked three shots, and Pellizzer had five steals.
Briones led Ishpeming with 22 points, including four triples. He scored 13 points in the second half, but no other Hematite had more than four. “He’s tough” said Schive, “and he’s not afraid to shoot the ball.”
• The Wykons faced Norway in the late show March 5 as the District 95 tournament opened in Iron Mountain. The semifinal doubleheader opened with IM’s game against Stephenson.
The two Monday winners meet for the district title at Iron Mountain March 7 at 7 p.m.
Wykons 12 15 21 16 -- 64
Hematites 18 10 13 14 -- 55