IRON RIVER—That’s not how to go into the post-season—by falling meekly (on your home floor!) to the team you will face four days later at the district tournament.
But that’s what happened to West Iron’s girls team Feb. 21 when Stephenson came to town. The Eagles looked ready for anything as they soared to a 47-31 win over the Wykons. WIC Coach Mike Dallavalle was as disappointed as anyone. “We played like it was the first game of the year,” he remarked.
It was an alarming home finale for a Wykon team that had looked so good on Feb. 18, defeating L’Anse 64-39. West Iron finished its regular season with a 10-10 record overall, 4-4 in the West Pac Conference.
The Wykons only had four days to figure it all out before meeting Stephenson again, this time in a District 95 semifinal game at Iron Mountain on Monday, Feb. 25.
Vs. Stephenson: West Iron struggled all night against the Eagles, making just 26% from the floor and 1 of 10 three-pointers. The Eagles were hot, making 45% of their shots--50% in the second half.
Neither team scored in the first four minutes, but after Stephenson got going, the Eagles made two triples for a 13-6 lead after one.
West Iron’s shooting woes continued in the second quarter, and the visitors led 24-15 at halftime.
Little intensity: “We came out a little flat,” said the coach, “and didn’t have much intensity, gave up a big lead early on and never really could get out of it.”
Things didn’t get better in the third quarter, as the Eagles outpointed West Iron 17-7. “You can’t come out of the locker room and talk about intensity and give up 17 points.”
Some of WIC’s shooting problems were in the paint, where they struggled against Stephenson’s big girls, Chelsea Turcotte and Tori Wangerin. “We’ve had a size advantage most of the year,” the coach said. “All of a sudden you get girls your size, and it’s a different ball game.
“They kept us off the glass pretty well and eliminated a lot of second chances.”
Forcing it: With their outside shots going clank, West Iron couldn’t loosen up the middle. “We were forcing some of those up instead of waiting for a nice open look,” the coach observed.
“Stephenson made the extra pass tonight really well, and got nice, open looks. It showed.”
Even WIC’s free throw shooting was off—just 38%. “Atrocious,” said the coach. “That just goes to focus: We lose focus because we’re surprised we’re in the middle of a basketball game, and the other team is playing harder than we are.
“We’ve been playing at a very high level for the last two weeks, and I’ve been very proud of how these girls played. Tonight was a bit of a letdown—and hopefully an eye-opener before districts.”
Numbers: WIC team: 11-43 (26%) FG, 1-10 (10%) 3’s; 8-21 (38%) FT. Eagles team: 17-38 (45%) FG, 3-5 (60%) 3’s, 10-16 (63%) FT.
WIC stats: Megan Miatech, 9 pts, 6 rebs; Kylee Erickson, 7 pts, 4 rebs; Alexis Golfis, 6 pts. Eagles stats: Tiffany Wangerin, 9 pts; Lexi Rasner, 8 pts; Kelson Johnson, 7 pts; Kaitlyn Miller, 7 pts.
Eagles 13 11 17 6 -- 47
Wykons 6 9 7 9 -- 31
Vs. L’Anse: Early in February, the Wykon girls lost by three at L’Anse. In the rematch Feb. 18, West Iron quickly made sure that wouldn’t happen again.
The Wykons took the lead right off the opening tip (a Megan Miatech basket) and never looked back. They led 15-8 after the first quarter and 32-16 at halftime. The Purple Hornets tried hard but never got closer than 15 in the second half.
That’s solid defense, and Dallavalle liked his team’s effort. Kylee Erickson was matched up with Kelsey Ross, while Alexis Golfis and Sydnie Mazurek covered Madi Swanson. Ross and Swanson combined for 34 points in the earlier game. This time, they were held to 19.
On offense, the Wykons took the ball inside right away and forced early L’Anse fouls. Emilie Christensen scored six in the third quarter, and Miatech had six in both the first and fourth frames.
Erickson led with 24 points—13 in the first half and 11 more in the fourth quarter. She hit five three-pointers.
Numbers: WIC team: 24-67 (36%) FG, 6-11 (55%) 3’s, 10-17 (59%) FT, 18 fouls, 53 rebs. L’Anse team: 16-72 (22%) FG, 1-14 (7%) 3’s, 6-21 (29%) FT, 15 fouls.
WIC stats: Kylee Erickson, 24 pts, 5x3, 5 rebs, 5 asts; Megan Miatech, 18 pts, 11 rebs, 3 asts; Emily Christensen, 13 pts, 14 rebs; Alexis Golfis, 8 asts. L’Anse stats: Valerie Rajala, 13 pts, 9 rebs; Madi Swanson, 12 pts; Kelsey Ross, 7 pts.
P.Hornets 8 8 9 14 -- 39
Wykons 15 17 10 22 -- 64
Coming up: Part two vs. Stephenson—the only one that matters—was played Feb. 25 at the District 95 tournament in Iron Mountain. The winner advances to the title game Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. vs. the Iron Mountain-Norway winner.
The Class C regional tournament starts March 5 at Marquette, with the District 95 winner facing the winner of the District 96 tourney in Houghton.