IRON RIVER—Despite playing hard, West Iron’s girls team had to take two losses last week.
The Wykons couldn’t hold on to a lead at L’Anse on Feb. 4 and lost 55-52 to the Purple Hornets. Back home on Feb. 7, Forest Park played a strong game and won 61-39.
West Iron enters this week with a 6-9 record overall, 1-4 in the West Pac Conference.
Vs. Forest Park: That 61-39 final on Feb. 7 is identical to the score at Forest Park on Jan. 4. But any similarities end right there.
In the first game, the Wykons were out of it early, buried under a barrage of Forest Park threes. The rematch was different, with the Lady Trojans only opening up a lead midway through the third quarter.
“We played really great defense in the first half,” WIC Coach Mike Dallavalle said later. “Kylee [Erickson] did a great job on [Lexi] Gussert, and Emmy [Christensen] and Megan [Miatech] and Cassilyn [Pellizzer] and Alexis Golfis did a great job helping any time she needed it.
“We know Lexi’s a great player,” Dallavalle continued, “and we know she’s going to get to the basket, but we contested shots.”
One bad minute: The Wykons’ strong defense kept them within two points of the Trojans, 18-16, with a minute to go till the intermission. Then Gussert drove down the right side and scored. West Iron missed a shot, Gussert got the rebound, and after several missed shots, she knocked in a three from the right side. Just like that, FP’s two-point lead had grown to seven, 23-16.
“That last minute before halftime killed us,” the Wykons coach said. “We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, and they went on a 5-0 run.
“I don’t know if we got tired—but we’ve done that before this year.” As halftime nears, the Wykons let up mentally, and the other team finishes strong.
“One minute can kill you,” Dallavalle said. “That’s something we have to work on in practice. Those are the little things that make a difference when tournaments roll around.”
Dynamic duo: Gussert moved near the basket in the second half. “That was tougher for Kylee to defend. We tried to help her, but she found Kendra [Campbell].” Campbell scored 15 points for Forest Park and combined with Gussert (32) to score 47 of their team’s 61 points.
Dallavalle praised Emilie Christensen’s work—she led West Iron with 16 points, nine in the third quarter as the Wykons tried to keep pace with the 16-1 Lady Trojans.
“But this was the first time this year that we’ve been out- rebounded. That says a lot for Forest Park, about the desire they have. I know Lexi gets in there and gets tips, but the rest of the team is outhustling us to loose balls.”
(Stats and more about the game in the Forest Park report.)
At L’Anse: The battle with the Purple Hornets was a physical battle—West Iron attempted 30 free throws, making 18 of them.
Dallavalle said he put Erickson on Kelsey Ross and Golfis on Madi Swanson. “They shut them down in the first half, but in the second half Ross hit three threes, and Swanson got penetration—we weren’t helping well on penetration.”
Ross and Swanson combined for 34 of L’Anse’s 55 points. “Most of it was in the second half.” L’Anse also had a shooting edge, connecting on 41% of their shots to West Iron’s 26%.
“We were in a good position to close that game out,” Dallavalle said. West Iron shot 60% at the free throw line, 18 of 30. “All we’ve got to do is shoot 75% from the line and we beat them.”
Numbers: WIC team: 17-66 (26%) FG, 0-8 3’s, 18-30 (60%) FT; 56 rebiunds, 15 turnovers. L’Anse team: 21-51 (41%) FG, 4-16 (25%) 3’s, 9-14 (64%) FT, 34 rebs, 13 turnovers.
WIC stats: Kylee Erickson, 14 pts; Emilie Christensen, 13 pts, 12 rebs, 4 steals; Alexis Golfis, 10 pts; Megan Miatech, 8 pts, 7 rebs; Sierra Rasmussen, 5 pts, 7 rebs; Cassi Pellizzer, 10 rebs, 2 asts. L’Anse stats: Madi Swanson, 17 pts, 3 asts; Kelsey Ross, 17 pts, 3x3; Kelly Larson, 7 pts; Valerie Rajala, 7 pts, 5 rebs, 3 asts.
Wykons 12 11 15 14 -- 52
P.Hornets 9 15 15 16 -- 55
Coming up: The Wykon girls play three times this week as the season nears its end. They visit Hancock Feb. 11 and Westwood Feb. 12 before hosting Calumet on Feb. 14.
The Calumet game is the first of three straight at home to end the season: L’Anse visits on Feb. 18, and Stephenson has a make-up date Feb. 21.
Four days later, on Feb. 25, the Wykons and Stephenson meet again in Iron Mountain to start the District 95 tournament.