Wykon girls’ season ends in regional thriller
ESCANABA—For 31½ minutes of their Class C regional semifinal, two of the top girls basketball teams in the Upper Peninsula staged an epic battle, each landing blows and each fighting off others.
So as fifth-ranked West Iron County and third-ranked Ishpeming stood tied at 55-all with 36 seconds left, the opportunity to play for a regional title hung in the balance.
But one thing separated the teams right from the start and that is what eventually spelled the difference in the outcome - namely experience at the guard position.
The Hematites, who start five senior guards, were the beneficiary of all that experience and it was their leader and top player, 5-foot-7 Madigan Johns, who came up with the goods, hitting four straight free throws in the final moments to send Ishpeming to a 59-55 win over the precocious Wykons in a regional thriller at Escanaba High School on March 6.
Two nights later, Ishpeming fell to top-ranked St. Ignace 70-56 in the regional final.
Johns, the Mid-Peninsula Conference Player of the Year, drew a foul with nine seconds left and calmly sank two free throws to put her team on top. West Iron had a chance to tie or win but turned the ball over with under five seconds left and Johns then put the dagger in with two more free throws as West Iron’s best season in recent years ended with both heartbreak and pride.
“They threw punches and we threw punches and that’s been the theme all year long,” said Eric Shamion, whose first varsity team finished with an 18-5 record. “Our girls love to fight. And there’s lots of tears in the locker room, but they have nothing to hang their head about. We hung with the No. 3 team in the U.P. all game. It was tied with (under a minute) to go and we just couldn’t finish the game.”