WIC outlasts FP in defensive tussle
West Iron senior Anna Malmquist rushes up the court against Forest Park’s Lea LaChapelle during the cross-county battle on Jan. 10 in Iron River. Malmquist sank six straight free throws in the final 90 seconds to preserve her team’s 36-34 victory.
IRON RIVER—Those who are only into offensive basketball probably considered the West Iron County-Forest Park girls basketball game on Jan. 10 an eyesore. Those who appreciate defensive basketball saw something to enjoy.
Of course, both sides had an argument after the Wykons nipped the Lady Trojans 36-34 at Charles Greenlund Gymnasium. The teams combined for just 22 of 99 shooting from the floor and each had a four-point quarter – Forest Park in the second and West Iron in the third.
Points were definitely hard to come by in the first cross-county meeting of the girls season, but that didn’t mean the coaches were unable to appreciate what each side did on the defensive end.
“Credit both teams and the kids from both sides of the county that really came to play tonight,” WIC coach Eric Shamion said. “And really showed effort and determination on defense. But if the crowd came for offense, they didn’t see it.”
“It was a fun defensive game to watch,” FP coach Kim Bjork added. “You can be happy in victory and you can be happy in defeat, too. That’s what we are. We put out a valiant effort and we battled to the end.”
The difference in the end was the free throw shooting of Wykon senior guard Anna Malmquist, who stepped up to the line with the game in the balance and knocked down six consecutive free throws on three bonus situations in the final 1:27.
Malmquist said the onus was on her after center Emily Nelson fouled out with 2:56 to play and West Iron clinging to a three-point lead.
“Emily fouling out was big and I knew that I needed to step up there,” Malmquist said. “I’ve been inconsistent (with my shot) in practice but something about warming up today, my shot was on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hit any big shots in the game on the outside, but my form and my muscle memory were there tonight.”
Trailing 18-11 at the halftime break, Forest Park fought back to take the lead in the third quarter with a 10-2 run. Senior center Mercedes Simmons scored six points to go with a 3-pointer from Sydney Honkala and a free throw from Amya Johnson. Nelson scored in the post with 2:02 remaining in the third quarter to put her team back on top 22-21 entering the final stanza.