IRON RIVER— West Iron’s boys team started its five-game road trip last week in the best way possible—with a pair of wins.
After defeating Florence 67-41 on Jan. 7, the Wykons stopped Calumet 53-41 on Jan. 10. West Iron was 6-1 overall and 2-0 in West Pac Conference play as they took the floor at Houghton Jan. 14 to start a three-game week.
At Calumet: Alex Ralston and Joe Pisoni jump-started West Iron’s scoring with early three-pointers. “We got off to a great start,” Coach Dan Schive said. “Outstanding.”
The Wykons got sloppy on defense later in the first quarter “because we wanted to get the ball again.” Calumet had nearly caught up (17-15) by the first break.
In the second, WIC dialed up its defense while keeping the offense flowing. Tyler Stafford scored six and Pisoni hit another three, as the Wykons led 32-23 at halftime.
Danger man: Schive’s big concern was Calumet’s top scorer, Paul Torala. Since the Wykons are deep in guards, Schive rotated Pisoni, Ryan Rogers, Aren Newby and Austin Waara on Torala, holding him without a basket until the fourth quarter.
“We worked him over really hard in the first half,” the coach said. “We pressured three-quarter court on him all the time.”
By the third quarter, the Copper Kings seemed worn out, and West Iron put pedal to the metal, outscoring Calumet 19-1. “I said ‘Jack the speed up, and let’s go as hard as we can for as long as we can.’ We switched defenses on them a couple times, and they just got confused.”
Sloooooww: Ahead by 22 after three quarters, Schive said he experimented with a slow-down game in the fourth. “Maybe a little too much. I was seeing if I could slow the pace waaay down and still get a good shot. Almost to a snail’s pace.”
He said his team looked uncomfortable doing that, but at some point the Wykons will want to slow the pace of a game, protect the ball and wait for open shots. “With a 20-point lead, we might as well do a little experimenting.”
Schive said his team shared the ball very well, “and the other guys were making shots.” Ralston and Stafford led West Iron with 12 points each, and Pisoni had 11.
“I was happy they played hard the whole game. For stretches we looked like a 10, and for stretches we looked like a 5.”
“So it was a 6 or a 7 on a 1-to-10,” Schive said. ““I was pretty happy.”
Numbers: WIC team: 21-43 FGs, 7-11 3’s (est.), 4-6 FT, 12 fouls. Calumet team: 9-13 FT, 3x3, 8 fouls.
WIC stats: Alex Ralston, 12 points, 2x3, 5 assists; Tyler Stafford, 12 pts, 10 rebounds; 3 steals; Joe Pisoni, 11 pts, 3x3; Austin Waara, 7 pts, 3 asts; Ryan Rogers, 5 pts; Brock Hopkins, 6 rebs; Adam Newby, 3 asts. Calumet stats: Paul Torala, 14 pts; Owen Kariniemi, 10 pts; Daniel Olson, 8 pts; Chad Sturos, 7 pts.
Wykons 17 15 19 7 -- 53
C.Kings 15 8 1 18 -- 42
At Florence: Earlier last week, the host Bobcats kept up with the Wykons for most of one quarter—even leading 7-2 early—before the Wykons stopped turning over the ball and got into their offensive flow.
Time ran out for the home team in the second quarter. WIC’s passes started working better and the Wykons went on a 16-6 tear that put them up 33-23 at halftime.
WIC then scored the first six of the second half and went on a 9-0 run later.
5-for-5: Late in the game, West Iron made 5-for-5 changes to keep fresh legs on the floor, run clock and play keep-away with the ball until someone got open—then he got the pass and added to the lead.
“That’s the first time we’ve ever done that. We didn’t even practice that.”
Waara scored nine in the third quarter and led the team with 19 points, including three triples. Adam Newby had 12, Stafford scored 10, Brock Hopkins had nine and Anthony Rule had eight off the bench. Ralston didn’t score but dished out eight assists.
Schive liked Hopkins’ play and his adjustment to faster-paced varsity ball. “He’s really talented—he’s just got to get comfortable [at that speed].
“Once we got it rolling, we did all right.”
Numbers: WIC team: 28-65 (43%) FGs, 6x3, 7-12 FTs, 11 fouls. Florence team: 2x3, 3-12 FTs, 12 fouls.
WIC stats: Waara, 19 pts, 3x3; Adam Newby, 12 pts; Tyler Stafford, 10 pts, 11 rebs, 4 stls, 4 blocks; Brock Hopkins, 9 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts; Anthony Rule, 8 pts; Alex Ralston, 8 asts.
Wykons 14 19 21 13 -- 67
Bobcats 13 10 10 8 -- 41
Coming up: The Monday night battle at Houghton was important, and is followed by back-to-back games at Forest Park (Jan. 17) and L’Anse (Jan. 18). They return home Jan. 22 to play Hancock.