No. 1 Houghton beats Jeffers to start season 8-0

Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton’s Tawna Ryynanen scores a layup during the fourth quarter in Painesdale as Jeffers’ Alexa Clouthier looks on.

PAINESDALE — Each day before her classes begin, Houghton senior Tawna Ryynanen is in the gym at 7 a.m., getting shot after shot up while most kids her age are attempting to steal a few more precious moments of sleep.

Coming into Tuesday, she made 17 3s in seven games. And against the Jeffers Jets, it all came together for the 6-foot-1 Ryynanen, as she swished five 3s on her way to scoring 21 points to lead the No. 1 Houghton Gremlins to a 70-55 nonconference win over Jeffers in Painesdale.

“I’ve been putting up many 3s in the morning,” she said. “My teammates set me up for those and anytime they drive, I’m waiting out there and ready to knock it down.”

Her regular routine lasts anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes and utilizes a shooting machine, allowing her to get as many reps as possible during the given time.

“I’m much more confident now that I’ve been putting up more shots, lately, throughout the summer and this year,” Rynnanen said.

Of course, she’s just one part of the talented, multi-faceted Gremlin attack. Senior Sloane Zenner scored 10 points, and juniors Harlee Froberg and Kara Pietila each scored nine for a Gremlin offense that utilized an uptempo approach. Houghton quickly inbounded the ball off Jeffers’ makes and frequently was able to score on secondary breaks.

Houghton (8-0) converted 25 of 54 shots (46 percent) on the night.

“I like how we pushed the ball,” Houghton head coach Julie Filpus said. “We got a couple passes from Madi (Dillinger) that led to easy buckets.”

Still, Jeffers (5-2) kept pace for much of the game, even after Houghton scored an impressive 25 points in the first quarter, where they shot 10 of 17. Jeffers junior Ivy Klemmett completed a 6-0 run to start the second on a 3-point play to trim Houghton’s lead to 25-23 with 5:18 left in the quarter.

Klemmett scored 13 points, while senior Alexa Clouthier led the way with 18 points, and senior Julia Nordstrom scored 14, for a Jets team that shot 20 of 47 (43 percent).

“I backed off a little bit on the strictness,” Jeffers head coach Joe Romano said of his team’s offense. “Everything I guess isn’t going to be perfect passes and what not, so I let them be a little more creative tonight, and they did well. I’m proud of them.”

After a scorching first quarter, Houghton went cold, converting just 4 of 14 shots in the second. The Gremlins didn’t have a field goal until 2:39 left in the quarter when Zenner scored a layup to give her team a 29-23 lead.

Houghton would find its rhythm from there, closing on a 12-5 advantage to take a 39-28 lead into halftime.

“We told the kids in the locker room, and after the game, that we played a solid game,” Filpus said. “We just didn’t get the separation we wanted, but we never quit fighting.”

Ryynanen’s final 3 of the night put Houghton up 55-42 with under six minutes left in the fourth.

Back-to-back 3s from Clouthier and Nordstrom cut Houghton’s lead to 62-51 with 2 1/2 minutes to play, and Clouthier would eventually record a 4-point play, but Houghton never allowed Jeffers an opportunity to legitimately put the outcome in doubt.

“We lost, but we won,” Romano said. “This is how our kids learn. We stayed with a top-quality team. I think (Houghton) will admit to that. It may not have been great, but we stuck with them.”

Houghton held a 31-29 edge on the boards with Froberg recording a team-high seven rebounds.

For Jeffers, senior Ashley Lehto secured a game-high eight rebounds. The Jets turned it over 22 times, including four in the first four minutes; Houghton took advantage of the Jets’ mistakes and jumped out to a 10-3 lead to start the night.

Next, Houghton heads to Westwood on Friday.

Jeffers goes to Hancock on the same day.

Houghton 25 14 11   20    70

Jeffers 17 11 12   15    55

Houghton — Dillinger 8,Ryynanen 21, Zenner 10, C. Monette 6, Colling 7, Froberg 5, Pietila 9. F:14; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 13-18; 3-point field goals: Ryynanen 5, Zenner.

Jeffers — Klemmett 13, Stevens 6, Nordstrom 14, Kinnunen 2, Clouthier 18, Pennala 2. F: 15; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 8-11; 3-point field goals: Clouthier 3, Nordstrom 2, Stevens 2.