PAINESDALE - One could say that the Chassell and Jeffers boys basketball teams have a "friendly" rivalry.
After all, the two schools are in a co-op plan with Hancock in football and players often end up as teammates in the fall ... and opponents in the winter.
But the basketball rivalry between the Jets and Panthers is always intense, and Friday night's contest between the two familiar opponents was a good example.
Troy Kinnunen of Jeffers is corraled by a Chassell player Friday night. (Paul Peterson photo)
Alex Outinen of Jeffers runs into the defense of Chassell's Jordy LaTendresse Friday night. Outinen tossed in 20 points in his team's 56-43 win.
"I can't explain it," Jeffers coach Duane Snell said after his team's relatively easy 56-43 victory on Parents Night. "We always seem to play pretty well against them."
The Jets came out firing in the Copper County Conference contest. A triple from the corner by Daniel Salo got the Range boys off to a quick 3-0 lead and they never looked back.
"Jeffers was really shooting well to open the game," Chassell coach Steve Spahn said. "And we didn't shoot very well at all. But give them credit, they just beat us tonight."
Chassell 10 10 16 7 - 43
Jeffers 19 12 17 8 - 56
Chassell - Carson Ryynanen 8, Jake Tuomi 4, Josh Pietila 21, Evan Huhta 4, Jordy LaTendresse 6. FT: 3-4; Rebounds: 28 (C. Ryynanen 8); Fouls: 9; Fouled out: Tuomi; 3-point FG: Pietila 5, C. Ryynanen 1.
Jeffers - Alex Outinen 20; Zack Nicholas 5, Troy Kinnunen 22, Daniel Salo 5, Christopher Outinen 2, Myles Rajala 2. FT: 8-10; Rebounds: 31 (Kinnunen 10); Fouls: 11; Fouled out; None; 3-point FG: A. Outinen 4, Kinnunen 4 Nicholas 1, Salo 1.
Without much notice, the Jets are suddenly in the thick of the CCC race with a 5-1 mark. And first-place leader Lake Linden-Hubbbell has to come to Painesdale next Friday evening.
"That's a huge game for us," Snell said. "It's late in the season and we're right there in contention for the conference. I couldn't ask for more from these kids."
The Jeffers attack was two-pronged, with Troy Kinnunen and Alex Outinen accounting for 42 points.
"We've come to expect that from Troy (Kinnunen), but we also know that Alex has the capability to get hot," Snell said. "He played a very strong game."
With a 19-10, 31-20 and 48-36 leads after the first three quarters, the Jets' constant defensive pressure forced the taller Panthers into numerous miscues. In all, the Blue and Gold committed 21 turnovers.
"We didn't handle their pressure very well until later in the game," Spahn said. "We did keep hustling and managed to get it under ten points in the fourth quarter ... it was just too late."
After reducing the margin to 50-43 with 2:36 left behind Josh Pietila's outside firing, the Panthers made the mistake of fouling Alex Outinen.
An 80 percent free throw shooter, Outinen dropped in two freebies. And when Kinnunen hit a driving layup, it was 54-43 and lights out.
Kinnunen led the way for Jeffers, now 7-7 overall and 5-1 in CCC?play, with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Outinen was close behind with 20 points.
Both of the Jets top scorers knocked own four treys.
Pietila led the Panthers with 21 points. Carson Ryynanen added eight points and eight rebounds and Jordy LaTendresse had a good effort off the bench with six points and five boards.
The Jets travel to Watersmeet next Tuesday, while Chassell (6-7, 3-3 CCC)?hosts Ontonagon the same evening.
Jeffers won the JV game.