IRON RIVER—After a pair of tough games against tough opponents, the Wykon girls basketball team got to let loose last Friday night and have a good time.
The Wykons lost to L’Anse 68-48 at home Feb. 3, and to mighty Forest Park 71-24 on Feb. 6. But one night later, they went to North Dickinson and got to party down with a 73-39 win over the Nordics.
Another three-game week awaits: The Wykons start it with a 5-9 record overall, 0-5 in West Pac games.
Against L’Anse, West Iron rallied late in the first quarter and got within two points. But the Purple Hornets buzzed away in the second quarter, outdistancing WIC 22-10 for a 35-21 halftime lead.
An 8-0 Wykon rally early in the second half cut the lead to single digits briefly, but L’Anse had too much firepower and was up by 19 after three.
WIC Coach Joe Serbentas admired how adept L’Anse was at moving the ball upcourt and the play of senior guards Valerie Rajala and Madi Swanson.
“This team has been together the last three years, and they feel they can outrun anybody up and down the floor. They’re leading our conference for a reason.”
Rajala led L’Anse with 15 points, followed by Vanessa LeClaire (12) and Swanson (11). Alexis Golfis and Meg Miatech each scored 12 for West Iron, who got eight from Cassi Pellizzer, seven from Emmy Kinner and six from Lizzi Pellizzer.
P.Hornets 13 22 15 18 -- 68
Wykons 11 10 10 17 -- 48
At Forest Park, the Wykons challenged a team that many think will be playing in East Lansing next month. It was WIC’s final game against Lexi Gussert, the Lady Trojans’ superstar bound for Michigan State. She scored 32 points.
“We played well in the first half,” Serbentas said. “We handled their press very well—only one turnover against their press.
“We just didn’t hit shots. We got the ball into the lane and got some good looks. But when you’ve got Lexi Gussert in there, she’s an eraser—she makes you rush shots. Just her presence makes you rush things.”
West Iron’s defense, he said, was “about as good a defense as you can play against Lexi.” Cassilyn Pellizzer played close and forced her to work for her points, even forcing a few turnovers and limiting her 3-point attempts.
Freshman point guard Emmy Kinner, recently promoted to the WIC varsity team, got noticed by FP Coach Jeff Syrjanen. “A good addition to their team,” Syrjanen said. “She gave us trouble with her penetration. She’s going to be a really nice player in the future.”
The Wykons struggled on offense in the second half, scoring just six points. “But a lot of that had to do with our defense,” FP’s Syrjanen said. “We played pretty intense defense on them.”
Alexis Golfis led the Wykons with 10 points, and Miatech scored five.
Wykons 9 9 4 2 -- 24
Trojans 20 20 18 13 -- 71
At North Dickinson, the Nordics stayed close for one quarter, thanks to three triples. But the Wykons led 15-13 and outgunned ND 17-5 in the second quarter.
Kinner led the second quarter attack with 11 points—four twos and a triple. She finished with a game-high 20. “Solid night,” Serbentas said. “She was on fire right way. North Dickinson didn’t have an answer for her at guard position.” Kinner only joined the varsity recently and is adjusting quickly.
West Iron led 32-18 at halftime and outpointed ND 41-21 in the second half, running their half-court sets well. “Our best shooting night of the year”—27 baskets, including four 3-pointers.
Behind Kinner’s 20. Miatech scored 13, followed by Golfis (10), Sydnie Mazurek (8), Monica Eagloski (7) and Cassi Pellizzer (6). Nine different girls scored, and Erin Angeli had three assists while filling in for Golfis in the third quarter.
“We really pushed the ball against them,” said Serbentas. “We’ve been playing teams that like to push the ball—L’Anse and Forest Park—and I want to be like that, too, as a team. Keep the tempo up. We can score more points that way.”
Wykons 15 17 23 18 -- 73
Nordics 13 5 9 12 -- 39
• This week, the Wykons host Hancock Feb. 10 and Westwood on Feb. 11 (the final home games this season). The girls visit Calumet Feb. 13. Next week, two road games end the regular season: at L’Anse on Feb. 17 and the make-up game at Stephenson Feb. 20.