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Wykon eighth-grade girls team embodies success

Members of the West Iron County eighth-grade girls basketball team are playing in this week’s tournament. Front row, from left: Isabelle Hoogenboom, Piper Passamani, manager Kendra Smith and Rudi Passamani. Back row: Samantha Hookenson, Riley Stine, Katerina Serbentas, Colbi Laturi, Katie Fredrickson and Alexis Jacks.
IRON RIVER—In any study of successful athletic teams, some crucial traits reveal themselves.
    The list would, of course, begin with talent, but would quickly move on to such intangibles as effort, camaraderie, discipline, resilience, confidence, instinct and intelligence.
    The West Iron County eighth-grade girls basketball team has all those traits, and they win. A lot.
     Heading down the stretch of their final middle school season, the eighth-grade Wykons have lost just three games in nearly two seasons. Last year, the team went undefeated with a 9-0 record in the Michigan-Wisconsin Junior High Basketball League, which is comprised of West Iron, Forest Park, Florence, Norway, Kingsford, Iron Mountain, North Dickinson and Niagara.
    This year, the group finished its regular-season campaign at 7-2. The Wykons entered tournament play on Monday with a trip to Iron Mountain to face the Mountaineers. The final will pit the winner against either Kingsford or Norway on Thursday, Oct. 23 in Kingsford.
    The first middle-school defeat the Wykons suffered was a one-point loss to Kingsford in the tournament final last year.
    Coach Nate Fales, former Wykon varsity boys basketball coach, knew almost immediately what he had when he began coaching the unit last year.
    “They’re pretty skilled, but I guess the biggest thing is they like basketball,” said Fales, who coaches both middle-school teams. “It’s never been, ‘Oh, it’s practice.’ It’s always been, ‘Yeah, we’ve got practice.’

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