HANCOCK - Hancock showed it's a new basketball season and got to work making new entries in its ledger Tuesday, defeating West Iron County 48-39 in a solid all-around Opening Night outing.
"It was needed. We needed this one tonight," Hancock coach Jack Johnson said.
The win was Hancock's first in WestPAC play since Feb. 9, 2012 (vs. L'Anse) and ended a run of 10 league losses in a row.
Hancock’s Mackenzie Brunet drives to the bask between West Iron County’s Tori Harris Hoogenboom, left, and Brittanie Barry during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Hancock. Brunet had nine points as the Bulldogs won 48-39. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The WestPAC may be, from top-to-bottom, the best girls' basketball league in the U.P., but if the Bulldogs play like they did Tuesday, they'll be a tough out. Hancock held its own inside against a tough post player in West Iron's Megan Miatech and got out effectively in transition to get themselves high-percentage opportunities all night.
"I was excited about how we ran the court. I thought we did a good job, I thought (point guard) Taylor Pertile did a nice job seeing the court for us tonight. We pushed the basketball, we got some opportunities in transition," Johnson said.
Speaking of transition, the Wykons have a new varsity coach in Joe Serbentas, and after graduating three All-U.P. players in the last two seasons, a roster that includes several newcomers hasn't quite jelled yet, he said.
West Iron 13 10 4 15 - 39
Hancock 10 17 9 12 - 48
West Iron County - Meg Miatech 16, Alexis Golfis 9, Cassilyn Pellizzer 7, Sydnie Mazurek 5, Monica Eagloski 2; FT: 16-26; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Miatech 1
Hancock - Maija Sebbas 16, Quincy Lorenzetti 13, Mackenzie Brunet 9, Molly Berg 4, Madisyn Wright 3, Taylor Nettell 2, Taylor Pertile 1; FT: 8-15; Fouls: 18; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Lorenzetti 3, Wright 1.
The Wykons held an early lead but Hancock took control early in the second quarter when junior guard Quincy Lorenzetti hit three long-range (all were at least a foot behind the arc) treys in less than a minute and a half.
"That was like a dagger right to the heart, and they were almost in succession out of the press. That was a big momentum booster for them," Serbentas said.
Still, Miatech, who had eight of her team-high 16 points in the second, kept West Iron in it. The Wykons trailed only 27-23 at the half.
In the third, Hancock took control by going hard to the basket, often straight off defensive rebounds. Forward Mackenzie Brunet had six points and freshman Maija Sebbas added an and-one in a 10-1 run that made it a 12-point game.
Though Hancock's physical defense put the Wykons on the free throw line early and often, West Iron didn't have a second-half field goal until two minutes into the fourth quarter.
"We had some open looks, we just didn't make them in the third quarter and they extended the lead because we struggled to get points on the board," Serbentas said.
Sebbas shut the door on the Wykons, going to the hoop for another and-one early in the fourth and scoring on back-to-back drives to the hole for a 43-30 lead with 5:42 left. She led Hancock with 16 points.
Johnson called Sebbas a 'smooth' player.
"For a freshman to step up and score 16 in her first varsity contest ... she clearly is going to draw some defensive attention and she's going to open up some other girls," he said.
The Bulldogs got ahead by as many as 17 before cruising into the finish.
"We just had some opportunities inside that we were able to capitalize on. A couple second-chance putbacks. To be honest with you, we had a couple lucky bounces. The ball fell our way more than once," he said.
Lorenzetti finished with 13 points and Brunet nine for the Bulldogs, who host Jeffers Friday night.