IRON RIVER—Yes, that score you saw last Tuesday was correct: Ishpeming blew apart West Iron’s boys team 92-43 on their home floor Feb. 26.
It’s hard to know what to make of that 49-point loss. It’s even harder to come up with a reason why it matters.
Consider: The Wykons were playing their season finale, against a non-conference team they are unlikely to meet during the post-season. WIC’s focus has been squarely on preparations for this week’s Class C District 95 tournament in Norway.
“We’re not going to play like that,” Coach Dan Schive promised.
The Wykons still finish the regular season with a 13-7 record, and they got good news later that night: A last-second Calumet shot defeated Houghton 41-40, which means the Wykons share the West Pac Conference title with the Gremlins, both at 6-2.
Hot hands: The 8-10 Hematites won because they fired an incredible 74% percent from the floor, making 39 field goals total. Coach John Tiziani probably wished his team could have saved some of them for a possible district title match against 19-1 Negaunee this week.
Ishpeming had the upper hand nearly all night at West Iron. The Wykons scored the game’s first four points and led 10-9 midway through the first quarter. But the Hematites took command and led 21-14 after one.
They led by 12 halfway through the second quarter when West Iron heated up. Tyler Stafford put back his own miss for two. Then Austin Waara hit a three from the corner, and Andy Ridolphi scored from close in.
That cut the lead to 33-28, but Ishpeming scored the final seven points of the half, and WIC Coach Dan Schive was called for a technical foul in the final minute. It was 40-28 at the break.
“Domination”: Ishpeming came back from the locker room after halftime. You could argue that the Wykons never really did. The Hematites scored the next eight points, launching a 33-12 third quarter that blew the game wide open. The visitors followed up with a 19-3 fourth quarter and started the running clock with five minutes left.
“Total domination from the time I was T’d up,” Schive said. “They ran us up and down the floor, we didn’t get back on defense. They’re going to shoot 70% if they get 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s, 4-on-1s.
“I don’t have any explanation for any of that.” One factor, he said, is that Ishpeming quickly pushed the ball up the floor on offense, after weeks of WIC opponents who walked it up. “We were totally not ready for it.”
West Iron was led by Waara, who scored 14 points. He made three baskets in WIC’s 15-point second half—no teammate had more than one.
Numbers: WIC team: 17-45 (38%), 4x3, 5-7 (71%) FT, 15 fouls. Ishpeming team: 39-53 (74%) 3’s, 4x3, 10-16 (63%) FT, 10 fouls.
WIC stats: Austin Waara, 13 points; Tyler Stafford, 8 pts; Adam Newby, 7 pts. Ishpeming stats: Bobby Zhulkie, 35 pts; Dylan Mackey, 13 pts, Alex Briones, 12 pts; Ozzy Corp, 10 pts.
Hematites 21 19 33 19 -- 92
Wykons 14 14 12 3 -- 43
Coming up: It all comes down to districts this week at Norway. West Iron faced Iron Mountain in the first semifinal game on March 4. The winner takes on the Stephenson-Norway winner March 6 at 6 p.m. for the district title and a berth at the Class C regionals March 11 and 13 in Escanaba.