CHASSELL - As senior co-captains on the Chassell High boys basketball team, Josh Pietila and Carson Ryynanen weren't about to see their careers come to an end Wednesday night against Baraga in a Class D district tourney semifinal game.
"They're our leaders, they both were first-team all-conference picks," CHS coach Steve Spahn pointed out after his team's 51-29 victory at Ed Helakoski Memorial Gym. "They played like seniors in this game."
Pietila poured in a game-high 21 points, while Ryynanen dropped in 18 more.
Chassell’s Evan Huhta shoots from close in during Wednesday’s Class D?district semifinal against Baraga in Chassell. Brandon?Nieskes defends for the Vikings. (Paul Peterson photo)
The win earned the Panthers a spot in Friday night's final against Lake Linden-Hubbell, which downed Jeffers in the other semifinal game last night.
Interim Vikings coach Scott Artley had his team start the game with a semi-stall. And the strategy worked for more than a quarter.
"Our problem was that we didn't make any shots," Artley noted. "We had some good ones ... they just didn't go in. Chassell started making their shots and we started hurrying ours."
Baraga 4 5 8 12 - 29
Chassell 8 15 16 12 - 51
Baraga - Chris Goodreau 2, Taylor Lindemann 7, Zach Owens 5, Brandon Nieskes 6, Austin Smith 5, Jonah Goodreau 4. FT: 7-17; Rebounds: 23 (Nieskes 7); Fouls: 13; Fouled out: None; 3-point FG: Smith 1, Owens 1.
Chassell - Josh Pietila 21, Carson Ryynanen 18; Evan Huhta 6, Jake Tuomi 2, Zach Cherubini 2, Jordy LaTendresse 2; FT: 9-12; Rebounds: 33 (Huhta 8); Fouls: 16; Fouled out: None; 3-point FG: Pietila 2.
Holding a slim 8-4 margin after one quarter, the Panthers used a 15-5 edge in the second to assume a 23-9 halftime lead.
"We suspected that Baraga would try to slow it down," Spahn said. "Fortunately, we started making some shots in the second and third quarters."
Ryynanen carried the lead for the Panthers in the first half with 14 of his total.
Baraga continued to sputter on offense in the third quarter, being outscored by a 16-8 count. That led to an insurmountable 39-17 deficit with a quarter left.
"We couldn't get anything going at all on offense," Artley said. "Chassell also increased the defensive pressure."
Pietila had a big second half, potting 18 of his amount over the last two periods.
Now 10-9 on the season, the Blue and Gold also received six points and a team-high eight rebounds from Evan Huhta.
The Vikes (3-19)?were led by Taylor Lindemann with seven markers. Brandon Nieskes added six points and seven rebounds.
Spahn feels his squad has a shot against LL-H.
"They (Lakes) did win both of the regular season games," he said. "We're going to have play well to win, but I think we're capable. If we can eliminate the turnovers and take a good shots, we'll have a chance."