IRON RIVER—Their record isn’t so shiny right now—1-5 overall, 0-3 in the West Pac—but better times seem to be in store for West Iron’s girls basketball team. There are positive signs.
In its final games before the holiday break, the Wykons fell behind early at Houghton Dec. 20 but played evenly with the Gremlins after that before losing 65-46.
Back home against Kingsford Dec. 23, the Flivvers led by 16 points at halftime, but the Wykons rallied in the second half and cut the lead to one possession before losing 56-48.
Through it all, Coach Joe Serbentas kept putting his younger girls in the thick of the action in pressure moments.
At Houghton, the Gremlins came out strong and led 17-8 after one. “We settled down after that,” Serbentas said, and the Wykons played evenly until a 6-0 Gremlin burst in the final minutes.
Before that rally, the Wykons trailed the perennial West Pac power by 10. “We’ve been blown out by 30 on several occasions,” the coach said. “The girls felt they played a great game, even though they lost.
“The key is that, even though they’re losing, they believe they’re getting better. They feel good after games; they know we’re on the right track.”
Megan Miatech led the Wykons with 16 points. Erin Angeli scored 10, and Alexis Golfis added eight. For Houghton, Elisa Jurmu led with 27 points, nine in the fourth quarter.
Wykons 8 13 13 12 -- 46
Gremlins 17 14 14 20 -- 65
Against Kingsford, the Wykons fell far behind during the first half and were 16 back at halftime. But in the second half, the Wykons rallied and cut the Flivvers’ lead to three points in the final minutes before they put away the win at the free throw line.
Free throws, in fact, played a big role in the outcome. The game was one of those foul fests, with a total of 45 fouls whistled and 63 free throws attempted. Tweet!
Kingsford was 24 of 39 at the line, 11 of 18 in the second quarter alone. Amber Larson led the team with 22 points, driving into the lane, drawing fouls and making 14 free throws (9 of 12 in the second quarter).
“I can’t fault their aggression,” said Serbentas about his team. “But you’ve got to do it with control. We lacked a little discipline when we reached in on stuff 80 feet from the basket instead of playing solid, honest defense—like we did in the second half.”
The Wykons trailed 38-22 after the first half, struggling with the fouls, free throws and Kingsford’s aggressive half-court trap. “It’s something we have to fix.”
In the second half, West Iron got its offense going, helped by baskets from Tori Harris, Cassi Pellizzer, Golfis and Miatech.
Kingsford still led by 13 with five minutes left, but WIC rallied 10-0 to slice the lead to 51-48 with two minutes left. Highlights: Pellizzer’s rebound hoop off a missed free throw and baskets by Harris and Miatech.
Kingsford preserved its win at the free throw line, hitting five freebies in the final minutes.
The first half fouls were on the coach’s mind later. “If we wouldn’t have put them on the line so much, it would have been a closer game. Who knows? Maybe we pull it out at the end if we don’t foul as much in the first half.”
By putting his younger girls in at key moments, Serbentas said, “That’s going to make a huge difference. Those girls off my bench are getting a lot of time,” an investment that he expects to start paying off later this season
Miatech led with 18 points, nine in the fourth quarter. Pellizzer scored 17, Golfis had six, and Harris scored five.
Flivvers 20 18 6 12 -- 56
Wykons 10 12 11 15 -- 48
• The Wykons return to action Jan. 3 by welcoming Forest Park and Lexi Gussert to the Greenlund Gym. Serbentas: “I told them, You’re playing a Division 1 ballplayer—it’s going to be fun.”
Back among the mortals, West Iron visits North Dickinson on Jan. 7.