Flipping the script
Hancock ends 8-game losing streak to Calumet thanks to Raasio’s clutch heroics
CALUMET — Before Monday, the Calumet Copper Kings beat the Hancock Bulldogs eight consecutive times in boys basketball. No one felt the misery of defeat more than Hancock senior Chad Raasio, who suffered through all eight losses of the rivalry since he was moved up to varsity as a freshman.
Fittingly, it was Raasio who clinched Hancock’s first win over Calumet since Jan. 16, 2014. The athletic forward swished a baseline go-ahead jumper before knocking down three free throws to give the Bulldogs a 45-41 West-PAC victory in Calumet.
Raasio finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds; he and seniors Hans Stimac and Michael McParlan accounted for all of Hancock’s scoring. Stimac had five 3s for 15 of his 17 points, and McParlan added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s quite a confidence booster for our whole team,” Raasio said of the win. “Calumet’s always a huge game and usually it’s just always a loss, so it’s nice to start out with a win.”
The two teams were tied at 33 after the third quarter, and they continued to trade baskets down the final stretch. The Copper Kings had all the momentum when senior Wyatt Loukus delivered a backdoor pass to senior Lenny Torola, who finished with a reverse layup to give Calumet a 41-40 advantage with 1 minute, 36 seconds remaining in the game.
“It was a stressful game back and forth. If you were watching, it was a good game,” said Hancock head coach Matt Strong, who was making his varsity coaching debut. “This is a big-time win for the seniors, as well as the school. Hopefully, we can keep building on this every single game.”
Out of the timeout following Torola’s layup, the plan was to have Raasio attack the baseline. But when Calumet’s defensive help came over, he stopped 14 feet out and shot over the outstretched arms of Calumet’s David Kaipio to convert the jumper from the right corner.
“I was waiting for the guys to clear out. When I drove baseline, it was just all clogged up,” Raasio said. “(Kaipio) is kind of shorter, so I pulled up and hoped for the best.”
Calumet never got a shot up on its following possession. Hancock senior Will Blau jumped the passing lane for the steal before the Copper Kings were forced to foul. After another foul sent Raasio to the line, he calmly drilled two free throws to make it 44-41.
With 40 seconds left, Loukus got a decent look at a deep 3 from the left wing, but the shot bounced off the rim. One more free throw from Raasio sealed the outcome.
“Just wish we would have executed a little better down the stretch,” Calumet head coach Mike Ojala said. “We just could never get the lead up to four or five… They hit some big buckets to keep us from getting any type of cushion.”
From midway through the first, to the 5:29 mark of the second, Calumet (0-1) missed 10 consecutive shots. Loukus broke the dry spell with a 3 from the left wing to cut Hancock’s lead to 17-11. The Copper Kings finished 17 of 54 from the field, including just 5 of 24 from 3-point range.
“It’s one of those things where you trust shooters to shoot, but I thought we took a couple quick ones,” Ojala said. “Really, I thought we got in a little better rhythm once we started inside-out, using our bigs. But those are shots that we can make, so we gotta keep guys confident that they can keep knocking those perimeter shots down.”
Calumet sophomore Matt Ojala led the Copper Kings with 15 points, and he began to heat up in the third quarter, when he went on a 6-0 run in less than 10 seconds.
With just over 2 minutes left in the third, Ojala knocked down a 22-foot 3 to bring his team within three. Sophomore Travis Ojala stole the following inbounds pass and found Matt trailing the play; Matt then converted another deep 3 to tie the game at 31.
“I called a timeout just to keep their momentum down,” Strong said after Ojala’s rally. “It was a game of momentum. We got in the huddle and no one was really flustered at all. I think our confidence was still there, so we kept doing what we were doing.”
Besides sophomore Devin Raasio subbing in for McParlan — who had foul trouble — in the third quarter, Hancock (1-0) played its senior starting five of Chad Raasio, Will Blau, Reece Anderson, Stimac and McParlan for the entire night. And to their credit, they never appeared worn down by the deeper Calumet squad.
“I just think their intensity during basketball drills in practice — where we haven’t done much running — really keeps them in basketball shape,” Strong said.
Hancock held a 41-28 advantage on the boards while shooting 17 of 50. The Bulldogs’ offense was initiated with a dribble-drive by Chad Raasio, who then dropped off passes to McParlan in the post, or dished outside to Stimac. McParlan converted 6 of 11 shot attempts, and Stimac was an efficient 5 of 10 as a spot-up 3-point shooter.
“That’s just kind of how it went,” Strong said of those three doing all the scoring. “Those guys were open, and they played a great game. Reece and Will, and Devin coming off the bench, they’re able to light it up as well, but it’s just kind of how it went tonight.”
Up next, Hancock travels to Ewen-Trout Creek on Thursday. The Copper Kings will host Negaunee on the same day.
Hancock 15 7 11 12 — 45
Calumet 8 11 14 8 — 41
Hancock — Stimac 17, Raasio 15, McParlan 13. F: 9; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 4-7; 3-point field goals: Stimac 5, Raasio 2.
Calumet — Matt Ojala 15, Kaipio 3, Twardzik 7, Loukus 9, Torola 7. F: 13; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 2-4; 3-point field goals: Ojala 3, Kaipio, Loukus.