MARQUETTE—Year in and year out, Houghton’s girls basketball team is always among the best. The Gremlins lived up to their reputation here March 5, shooting 52% from the floor to bury West Iron County 70-40 in a Class C regional semifinal game.
This winter, Houghton went 18-2 in the regular season and won another West Pac Conference title, including 32- and 22-point wins over the Wykons.
It quickly became clear March 5 that West Iron’s third time would not be the charm.
Hot shots: The Wykons took a 3-2 lead early on Kylee Erickson’s three-point shot, but Houghton scored the next 15 points and led 19-7 after one quarter. Elisa Jurmu scored eight in the first eight minutes.
“We knew we had to get off to a good start, offensively and defensively,” Coach Mike Dallavalle said after the game, “but they came out so intense and buried us right away.”
The Gremlins stayed hot, making 58% of their shots in the first half. Emilie Christensen made a shot early in the second quarter, but the Gremlins hit three straight shots for a 25-9 lead. By halftime it was 32-15. Christensen scored six in the second quarter, but the rest of the team combined for only two.
“They executed very well,” Dallavalle said of Houghton. “We did not do a good job defensively. In the first half, we weren’t contesting shots, we didn’t call out cutters, we weren’t getting back in transition.
“So we gave up a lot of easy baskets. We can’t do that against a team like Houghton. They finish well around the basket, and we have to contest. We did not do that tonight.”
Not cooling off: The Gremlins didn’t slow down in the second half, hitting their first three shots. Blaire Zenner scored eight in the third, but Erickson matched her with eight, including a pair of threes. She added another triple early in the fourth.
But that only cut the gap to 23 (55-32). West Iron was never able to cut into Houghton’s hefty lead.
“I really don’t feel we executed any part of our game plan well tonight,” Dallavalle commented. “We didn’t get back in transition, we did not slow the game down, we didn’t move the ball well offensively.
“But a lot of that has to go to the defense Houghton plays. They almost force you into it.” Houghton also had a big edge in rebounds (37-25), a rarity for this season’s Wykons.
Jurmu finished with 25 points. “She was amazing,” Dallavalle said. “She hit some threes. There wasn’t much she wasn’t able to do tonight.” Zenner scored 14. In all, nine different Gremins scored.
Christensen was WIC’s top scorer with 16. Despite being defended closely all night, Erickson still added 14. Only two other Wykons scored: Alexis Golfis (six) and Sierra Rasmussen (four). West Iron shot 32% from the floor—27% in the first half.
It was no surprise against a Houghton team that runs like clockwork. “Their execution is precision,” said the Wykons’ coach, “and their defensive intensity is something we have to get over—we have to be able to attack that instead of backing down.”
For a team that lost four starters after last season, the Wykons found their game in time to win their third straight district title. The loss at regionals was the final varsity game for seniors Erickson, Christensen and Mallory Tomasoski.
Numbers: WIC team: 16-50 (32%; 27% 1st, 38% 2nd), 4-13 (33%) 3’s, 4-4 FT, 25 rebs, 16 turnovers. Houghton: 30-58 (52%; 58% 1st, 47% 2nd), 5-13 (39%) 3’s, 5-5 FT, 37 rebs, 13 turnovers.
WIC stats: Emilie Christensen, 16 pts, 10 rebs; Kylee Erickson, 14 pts, 4x3; Alexis Golfis, 6 pts, 6 asts; Sierra Rasmussen, 4 rebs. Houghton: Elisa Jurmu, 25 pts, 2x3, 6 rebs; Blaire Zenner, 14 pts, 6 rebs; Ashley Laux, 8 pts; Kelsie Richards, 7 pts; Sydney Dillinger, 5 asts, 4 stls.
Wykons 7 8 14 11 -- 40
Gremlins 19 13 20 18 -- 70