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A method to Madness/The Red Line

February 17, 2011
By Brandon Veale - bveale@mininggazette.com

The calendar tells me it's mid-February. The weather tells me it's mid-April.

Somewhere in the middle of that is March and tournament season. The journey to that point remains incomplete, but here's a few notes, statistical and otherwise, to tide you over until it's time to break out "One Shining Moment."

One of the big stories of the season thus far has been the emergence of Hancock and L'Anse at the top of the WestPAC standings. In fact, they're now the only two teams that can win it.

At 11-5, the Bulldogs have already won more games than the last two seasons combined.

L'Anse has played in and won four overtime games this season. Including the last month of the 2009-10 season, coach Mike Ostermeyer's bunch has gone to an extra session seven times in the last 25 games.

Considering that one of those was a double (Feb. 19, 2010 vs. West Iron), L'Anse has played two extra games in that span. As for Coach Ostermeyer, I'm guessing his blood pressure has gone up almost as many points as his team's scoring average.

With all but one player on the Copper Country Conference first team coming back, I knew this year was going to be one with many stars. They haven't disappointed.

Dollar Bay's Tim Dunstan had the eighth 30-point game of his career and fifth of the season Tuesday night in Baraga. There have been 11 such games by seven players on six teams this season.

Compare that to last season, in which there were nine such games (including one in the postseason) or 2008-09, in which there were just two.

One last note for the guys that I confirmed this week: Any games in the Class C district tournament that take place in a round after host Ironwood is knocked out will take place in Hancock. Houghton has the first-round game with Ironwood and if it wins, the semis and final would be in Hancock. If L'Anse does the trick in the semis, the final would be in Hancock.

On the girls' side, the status quo remains as Houghton and Chassell will enter their respective districts as conference champions and favorites.

For the Panthers, Mara Ryynanen has a sterling career with well over 1,000 points, but what has been easily apparent this season is how she has signficant help.

This year, three Panthers (Kara Daavettila - 8.9, Jamie Dompier - 8.2, and Kaitlin Tuomi - 6.1) have made major offensive contributions. Last year, Daavettila was the only other Panther over 8 ppg, and the year before, none were. Basketball remains a team game.

Meanwhile, Houghton keeps rolling. The Gremlins are averaging nearly 55 points per game yet don't have a player averaging more than 13.

In fact, only 2009 U.P. Class C Player of the Year Sam Manderfield has averaged more than 15 in a season in the last three seasons. However, they've had seven in that span to average between 8 and 10.5. The points add up, no matter what the source.

Two other house-keeping notes: First, the Class D girls' district in Houghton County will be hosted by Dollar Bay in March. The first two rounds will be in Dollar Bay, but the final will be held at Finlandia University.

Also remember that the schedule for the regional hockey tournament has been adjusted, notably moving the semifinals back a day to March 3 to avoid conflict with girls' basketball.

March is coming - should be a fun trip.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com.

 
 

 

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