CALUMET - Given the run deep run into the state volleyball tournament many of its players participated in, one could forgive the Calumet girls' basketball team for shooting a tad off the mark or being a little slow in the opener Tuesday against Escanaba.
Except the Copper Kings weren't.
Four Kings drilled a total of eight threes and Calumet converted enough transition opportunities to hold Esky at bay and win its opener 51-37.
Calumet’s Katie Djerf spots up for a 3-pointer as coach Don Hill looks on from behind during the second half of Tuesday’s season-opening game against Escanaba. Djerf hit three of Calumet’s eight triples in a 51-37 victory. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"I told the girls if you make aggressive mistakes, that's OK, keep playing hard and the hustle we have will make up for the mistakes that we make," Calumet coach Don Hill said.
If there was any adjustment period for Calumet, which played five sophomores, it lasted about four minutes, as Michelle LaFave put up five points, the Eskymos drew three shooting fouls and opened on an 8-3 run.
A Terra Erkkila three and a transition lay-up from Lexie Rowe on the next two possessions erased the deficit and Terilynne Budreau put Calumet up for good, 12-10, by converting a post move while fouled at the first quarter buzzer.
Escanaba 10 4 15 8 - 37
Calumet 12 14 14 11 - 51
Escanaba - Michelle LaFave 14, Kamille Fritz 6, Lynsey Collins 4, Codi Jenshak 3, Zoe Berquist 3, Ashley Cook 2, Sydney Gafner 2, Samantha Connor 2, Amanda Mortl 1; FT: 11-21; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: LaFave 2.
Calumet - Lexie Rowe 16, Kristy Lasanen 13, Katie Djerf 10, Terilynne Budreau 5, Abby Bjorn 4, Terra Erkkila 3; FT: 7-13; Fouls: 15; 3-point field goals: Djerf 3, Rowe 2, Lasanen 2, Erkkila 1.
While Esky struggled to score in the second quarter, Calumet gained separation, including three quick buckets in a row midway through.
Despite missing much of the first quarter in foul trouble, Kristy Lasanen scored nine of her 13 points in the frame, including two fast-break lay-ups and a triple.
"We gave up a few easy baskets in transition during that two-minute stretch (in the middle of the second) and Calumet really ran the floor well," Eskymo coach Kelly O'Connell said.
The Eskymos had some success in the first half by limiting penetration with a zone defense, but their turnovers (of which they finished with 20) put them behind and led to their switching primarily to man in the second to increase ball pressure.
O'Connell said he was unhappy with his team's defensive communication in these situations, which Calumet exploited for 3-pointers, often early in possessions.
"We let them loose and they hit some shots. Give credit to Calumet, they hit some big shots," he said.
Calumet led 26-14 at half, and the Eskymos couldn't get enough stops to make a run. Rowe and Katie Djerf combined for five treys and the lead never shrunk to single digits.
"I was actually really happy with the way we did shoot the ball. When you only have a half-dozen practices and you've got four girls that have never played varsity games before, to come out and knock down some shots was really good for those kids," Hill said.
Rowe led all scorers with 16 points, while Lasanen finished with 13 and Djerf 10.
LaFave paced the Eskymos with 14 points, though only one other Esky player had more than four.
"I don't think we spaced out the floor that well tonight. We've got a lot of inexperience. Almost everybody we have back this year didn't see a lot of court time last year, except Michelle LaFave. It's gonna take time. This game's about spacing and keeping the floor spread," O'Connell said.
Calumet, which won the JV game 31-21, has more than a week to prepare for its next contest, the WestPAC opener at home to West Iron County Dec. 6. Esky plays its first home game of the season Saturday against Sault Ste. Marie.