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Wykons win home opener, fall at Houghton

IRON RIVER—It took until the first week of January for the West Iron County boys basketball team to play its first home game. Because of the postponement of the season-opener against Westwood on Dec. 9, the Wykons started the 2019-20 campaign with three road games.
    West Iron kicked off its home slate with the makeup game against Westwood on Jan. 6 and upended the previously unbeaten and fifth-ranked Patriots 50-42 at Charles Greenlund Gymnasium.
    The Wykons (3-2) went back on the road the next night with a trip to Houghton and were never in the game as the Gremlins jumped out to a 23-2 lead after the opening quarter and cruised to a 68-42 West Pac Conference victory.
    Against Westwood (4-2), West Iron used a massive advantage at the foul line to knock off the Patriots. The Wykons connected on 20 of 35 from the charity stripe while Westwood shot just eight and hit six.
    West Iron led pretty much the whole game. Peyton Williams sank four free throws in the opening quarter and Justin Nelson hit two more as the Patriots committed seven fouls in the first four minutes of the game.
After taking a 12-6 lead through one quarter, the Wykons extended their advantage to 24-14 after a 6-0 run during which Williams, Nelson and Dolan Dobson recorded buckets.
    “The first quarter, we played very well I’d say,” junior guard Nathan Thomson said. “On the defensive end we were flying, and we moved the ball and we were running our offense.”
    The Patriots closed the half on a 7-2 spurt to pull within five at the break.
    Leading 31-25 with three minutes left in the third quarter, the Wykons regained a double-digit lead by scoring five straight on a layups by Williams and Elijah Turbessi and a free throw from Nelson.
    But West Iron began to succumb to Westwood’s pressure defense early in the fourth quarter and the Wykons went scoreless for 3½ minutes during which they committed turnovers on seven consecutive possessions.
    “What we’re trying to get to in that point is to get the ball somewhere into the middle,” WIC coach Dan Schive said. “Get the ball in the middle and cut hard. I told them during one timeout, ‘If you guys would back cut against the man (defense) as well as you back cut against the zone, I could just sit on the side and watch you guys play and we’d be fine.’”
    Despite the dry stretch, West Iron was able to hang onto its lead because its defense surrendered just eight points during that span. In all, the Wykons held Westwood to 17 of 61 shooting overall (28 percent) and 2 of 17 (12 percent) on 3-point attempts.

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