Win sweet after tough losses for Wykon boys
West Iron junior A.J. Weisnicht tries to penetrate Iron Mountain’s stingy defense during their game Feb. 18.
L’ANSE/IRON RIVER—The West Iron County boys basketball team’s game against L’Anse Feb. 19 represented an opportunity for the Wykons to accomplish a couple of tasks.
After getting routed earlier in the week at Escanaba and at home against Iron Mountain, the Wykons had a chance to both rinse those bitter defeats out of their mouths and to head into the final two games of the regular season with a taste of success.
In the end, West Iron did both by digging deep to overcome a feisty L’Anse team 59-52 in overtime to score the West Pac Conference road win.
The victory gave the Wykons their third win in conference play and fourth overall heading into the final two regular-season games—at home against Hancock on Feb. 26 and at Ishpeming on March 1.
“They’re really happy in the locker room right now,” WIC coach Dan Schive said afterward. “It would have been real hard to go 0-3 for the week. It’s nice to go into the last week with a positive attitude.”
The game featured all manner of plot twists against a L’Anse squad that, though winless, is vastly improved since early in the year when West Iron rolled to a 58-39 win that was not even that close.
The Wykons (4-14, 3-4) began the second meeting by grabbing an 8-5 lead before the Purple Hornets answered with a 9-0 run to get their substantial homecoming crowd stirred up.
West Iron gained some momentum in the second quarter with an 8-0 spurt on two buckets by A.J. Weisnicht and a hoop each from Zane Sarafiny and Steven Nelson. But L’Anse scored the final six points of the half to take a 24-21 lead into the break.
“At the beginning of the game, I didn’t think we were ready to play,” Schive said of his team, which played the night before against Iron Mountain. “And I’m glad we didn’t go down big. But I thought it was a very rough, physical game, and we didn’t back down.”
Whether the Purple Hornets lost their edge a bit with the halftime presentation or not, the Wykons came out strong in the third quarter and outscored their hosts 17-6 to take an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Nelson and Weisnicht tallied five points each during the quarter, taking advantage of a smaller L’Anse lineup. Both ended up with 15 points, as the 6-foot-7 Nelson scored mostly in the post and off the boards, while the 6-4 Weisnicht used curls off weakside screens and some slashes to the hoop to account for much of his production.
As much as those two accomplished offensively, the Wykons needed some balance from its perimeter players, and they got it. Sophomore Jayce Brockhagen provided some as he came off the bench to knock down three 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 11 points.
“Everybody knows I have to be inside-out,” Schive said. “But Jayce made a couple of triples, and triples are huge. You’ve got to have some kids that can make some.”
The Purple Hornets do have some shooters, and they used the 3-point shot to get right back into the game. When freshman Logan Fish knocked down his second of the game, it gave the hosts a 47-45 lead with 31 seconds left to play after West Iron had led by eight.
At that point, the Wykons, who had faltered during the Purple Hornets’ 10-0 run, stiffened. Phil King hit both ends of a one-and-one with 25.7 seconds left in regulation to pull his team even.
After L’Anse went back on top, Neil Tomasoski sank both shots in a double-bonus with 14.8 seconds to play that eventually sent the game to an extra session.