Mountaineers lose defensive struggle

IRON MOUNTAIN – Ishpeming held Iron Mountain to a pair of second-half field goals and rallied for a 34-32 Mid-Peninsula Conference girls basketball decision Thursday.

The Hematites, down by 10 points in the first half, held off the Mountaineers with Jordan Grigg nailing a triple and making a steal in the final seconds.

“It wasn’t pretty but it’s a road conference win and we’ll take it,” Ishpeming Coach Mark Dellangelo said. “I have a young team that’s starting to recognize what they need to do and how to fight through these tough games.”

Iron Mountain, up 16-6 with 4:40 showing in the second quarter, held a 21-16 halftime edge. The Mountaineers then misfired on 14 of 16 shots in the second half.

“We couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” Mountaineer coach John Hogberg said. “They upped their pressure but we still had good shots.

While Iron Mountain played a 2-3 zone, Ishpeming went with a man defense and pressured full court after baskets.

“Teams have been playing zone against us and we’ve been struggling to find the gaps and find the open person,” Dellangelo said. “We’re slowly coming out of it.

“The girls fought hard. They really buckled down defensively and stopped them from easy baskets.”

Alesha O’Brien’s free throw snapped a 30-30 draw with 4:57 left. The Hematites’ lead climbed to three when Gabby Croley scored two minutes later.

“They started attacking our zone and got a little more aggressive,” Hogberg said.

With 26 seconds left in the game, Morgan Bujold gave the Mountaineers their second field goal of the half. The first came with 22 seconds to go in the third quarter on an Abby Gerhard drive.

A Grigg steal and free throw in the last eight seconds sealed the game. O’Brien’s defense was also a factor in shutting out Katelynn Johnson in the second half.

“That’s senior leadership coming down the stretch,” Dellangelo said of Grigg and O’Brien . “They knew we needed a stop.”

Junior Gabby Croley paced the Hematites with eight points. Mountaineers’ Johnson finished with a team-high 12 points and six rebounds. Sarah Pirkola tacked on eight points.

“This is a game we should have won but let it slip away,” Hogberg said.

On Monday, Ishpeming (5-4 overall, 4-1 MPC) visits L’Anse and Iron Mountain (1-9, 1-5) hosts Westwood.

Westwood triumphed 33-26 in the junior varsity game. Mountaineer freshmen, behind 21 points from Katie Brule and 10 from Anni Cevigney, clipped the Hematites 42-31.

Ishpeming 6 10 7 11 – 34

Iron Mountain 8 13 5 6 – 32

ISHPEMING: Spencer 6, O’Brien 4, Simula 2, Grigg 6, Skytta 2, Engler 6, Croley 8. FT: 7-13. F: 16.

IRON MOUNTAIN: Bujold 2, Johnson 12, Pirkola 8, Herman 4, McCole 2, Gerhard 4. FT: 12-21. F: 13.

3-point FG: Johnson 3, Pirkola, Grigg. FG shooting: Ishpeming 13-36, Iron Mountain 8-34. Rebounding: Iron Mountain 19 (Johnson 6, Gerhard 5), Ishpeming 18 (Spencer 5).