Calumet holds off Chassell 63-57
CALUMET — In a nonconference matchup Tuesday night, the Calumet Copper Kings boys basketball team did not shoot particularly well throughout the night, allowing the visiting Chassell Panthers to hang around. Despite Chassell evening the game fairly early and cutting Calumet’s lead to one, late, it was the Copper Kings who held on for the 63-57 victory.
Copper Kings coach Mike Ojala was visibly frustrated with his group just 38 seconds into the fourth quarter when the Panthers turned a five-point deficit into a 49-48 lead thanks to a pair of quick layups while the five players on the floor for Calumet were clearly shaken. Ojala burned a full time out to straighten out his team.
“I challenged them a little bit,” said Mike Ojala. “We challenged them a little bit and the guys responded. They knew it.”
It took 19 seconds for the Copper Kings to settle down from Ojala’s words, but the game turned on a pair of free throws from senior Jesse Helminen. Then, 44 seconds later, senior Lenny Torola took a feed from sophomore Matthew Ojala and put up a layup. On the next possession for Calumet, Matthew Ojala drained a 3 over the defense of Chassell junior Abe Gockenbach from the left corner, and suddenly that one-point lead swelled to 56-48.
That was the turning point in the game for Mike Ojala’s group, as from there, they were able to keep the Panthers at arm’s length.
“That was the big one,” said Mike Ojala. “That was huge and then we kind of controlled it from there on out.”
For Bill Sleeman, coach of the Panthers, this was par for the course that has been Chassell’s season: push that ball to the top of the hill, only to have it slip back down and have to try to push it back up again.
“We just could never get over that hump,” said Sleeman. “That is something that we have kind of been struggling with all year. We give up that little stretch and then we play great again for a stretch. We just can’t maintain that focus for long periods of time. It’s just a vicious cycle for us.”
The Copper Kings stormed out of the opening tip and jumped out to a 19-10 lead with just 1:35 left in the opening quarter when sophomore Travis Ojala came up with the ball off a steal, ran it the length of the floor and then made a layup without breaking his stride.
Chassell battled their way back until senior Logan Tervo grabbed an offensive rebound and made a layup to even things at 22 with 4:52 left in the half.
Two 3s for Calumet, including one by Matthew Ojala with Gockenbach in his face, and suddenly the Copper Kings were back up by 28-24.
The Panthers shaved a point off that lead, 31-28, but then disaster struck for Chassell when Torola picked up a layup and drew a foul with 34.6 seconds left in the half. He made the free throw to complete the 3-point play, but that was just the beginning.
At the buzzer, Torola grabbed an offensive rebound off an attempted 3 by Loukus. He spun and dropped a jumper as the horn sounded to give Calumet a 36-28 lead at the half.
Mike Ojala had been challenging Torola to be better of late, and he delivered Tuesday, scoring 13 points.
“We did a nice job of getting him the ball on the block,” said Mike Ojala. “He did a nice job of going after it. He stepped up here [Tuesday]. We have been challenging him too, because he’s capable of playing better than he has the last few games.”
To make matters worse for the Panthers, Torola did nearly the exact same thing to end the third quarter when he hit a slightly shorter jump shot to turn a three-point lead into a 49-44 edge.
“[Those] kind of shots can be such a huge swing one way or another,” said Sleeman. “That shot was big for them at the end of the third, I think.”
While the Copper Kings were waiting for Torola to start his impressive run, Loukus kept them ahead with 13 of his 14 points in the first half.
Calumet is back in action Friday when they travel to face West Iron County. Chassell will also be in action on Friday when they travel to face Jeffers.
Chassell 14 14 16 13 – 57
Calumet 19 17 13 14 – 63
CTS: Rautiola 15, Gockenbach 12, Hokenson 10, Tervo 6, Goddard 6, Pietila 4, Kytta 2, Holmes 2; Fouls: 15; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: none
CHS: M. Ojala 14, Loukus 14, Torola 13, T. Ojala 8, Kaipio 5, Twardzik 5, Helminen 4; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: T. Ojala; 3-point field goals: M. Ojala 3, Loukus 3, T. Ojala 2, Kaipio 1