HOUGHTON - The Gogebic Community College men's basketball team went into the Christmas break with a winning 6-5 record after taking the third-place game of the Hibbing (Minn.) Holiday Classic 73-69 over host Hibbing Community College Dec. 18.
Ewen-Trout Creek alum Tony LaPlant helped the Samsons with 14 points in the victory, including a pair of key free throws in the final minute. GCC trailed by as many as nine early but Hibbing rallied from nine down in the second half before a nip-and-tuck stretch drive.
The day before, GCC lost its tourney opener to Mesabi Range CC 75-68. LaPlant had 10 points, but the Samsons couldn't overturn a 15-point second-half deficit, coming within one.
The GCC women's team also split at the tournament, defeating Hibbing 57-55 Dec. 18 in their third-place game to reach 4-8.
The Lady Samsons got 11 points and a pair of triples from Ontonagon alumna Brittany Turin. Fellow Gladiator Lauren Siren added four.
The night before, Mesabi dealt GCC a 73-59 defeat. Starters Turin and Siren added 15 and eight points, respectively, but the Lady Samson bench was blanked as GCC was outscored by 20 in the second half. Both GCC teams are at Vermilion Jan. 3.
Hancock alum Tanner Kero of the United States Hockey League's Fargo Force is on fire lately, having scored in three of his last four games to run his season total to nine and crack the top 10 in the league in points and top 20 in goals.
Kero's goal glut began Dec. 10 at Lincoln, as he scored and was a plus-2 in his team's 3-0 victory. The next night at Tri-City, Kero had his team's only goal in a 2-1 loss and was credited with 11 shots on goal, only to be denied by Tri-City goalie Scott Diebold, who made 43 saves, 22 in the second period alone, including a Kero penalty shot.
Kero had a goal and two helpers as the Force routed the USA Under-18 Team 6-1 Dec. 17, but was held off the board in his team's 4-3 win over Sioux Falls the following night.
Twenty-six games into the USHL's 60-game schedule, Kero has nine goals and 12 assists, putting him at 10th in the league in points, tied for 16th in goals, tied for 18th in assists and tied for 14th in plus-minus at plus-9. He's second on the team in goals, assists and points and third in plus-minus.
The Force are tied for third in the USHL's Western Conference with a 12-10-4 record and 28 points, though with 26 games in the books, every other team in the conference has at least two games in hand.
Fargo's 11-day lay-off ends Wednesday night at Dubuque and continues with games at Sioux City and Sioux Falls Friday and Saturday.
If you know of a Copper Country alum continuing his or her career in collegiate athletics or junior hockey, please send their names to Sports Editor Brandon Veale at bveale@mininggazette. com so they can be included in 'Calls From Home,' to run on Thursdays bi-weekly during the winter sports season.