Bessemer tops Jeffers in OT, spoils Keteri’s coaching debut

Jeffers’ Carson Turner goes up for a layup as Bessemer’s Andy Aspinwall looks on Monday, in Painesdale. Bessemer won 71-63 in overtime. (Eden Laase/Daily Mining Gazette)

PAINESDALE — When the clock read 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, Trent Keteri was hit with a sudden burst of nerves and his hands began to shake. The new Jeffers head coach was getting ready for his first game at the helm as the Jets took on visiting Bessemer. He could hardly stand the anticipation, but by the time the junior varsity game got underway, the nerves fell away.  

Good thing, too, because the overtime thriller was anything but relaxing. 

Bessemer defeated Jeffers 71-63 Monday at Jeffers in a game that exceeded Keteri’s expectations.  

“I told the kids I don’t care what the game came out to,” he said. “That was probably the best game I’ve ever been a part of. 

“I’ve been hearing a lot of things about how we only have one guy returning, and no one is expecting us to be great. But Bessemer is one of the best teams we play in this area, and we stuck with them.” 

Early in the contest, Bessemer was the team that had to do the sticking with, as Jeffers jumped out to a quick lead. With 5:30 left in the first quarter, Carson Turner nailed a step-back 3 at the top of the key, giving Jeffers a 20-15 lead, and forced Bessemer to call a timeout.  

The shot set the tone for Turner, who finished with 25 points, and the Jets, who hit 12 3-pointers in the game.  

Bessemer struggled to close out on shooters, and Jeffers made the most of the defensive mistakes.  

“They hit all of their shots,” Bessemer coach Richard Matrella said. “I was just hoping they would start to miss a few, and they did eventually. But their spacing was great on offense, and our guys helped a little bit too much and we kept giving up that 3-pointer.” 

Turner made five 3-pointers in the game, but he also attacked with relative ease. As the first half wound down, Turner gave the Jets a 33-27 lead with a defense-splitting spin move in the lane that turned into a layup.  

In the first half, Bessemer kept its best defender, Brayden Tomes, away from Turner because they wanted to conserve his energy for offense. But at halftime Turner had 16 points, and the Speedboys had to adjust. They ended up matching Tomes up with Turner, but the Jets created space by running the senior guard off screens. 

“We have to do a better job of hedging the screen, but we weren’t helping on defense,” Matrella said. 

As for how to shut down Turner? Easy, you don’t. 

“Basically, you hope he wakes up with the flu,” Matrella joked after the game.  

Bessemer got a balanced scoring effort, with 15 points each from Tomes, Cade Mazzon and Tyler Busch. 

Tomes had perhaps the biggest play of the game when he hit a shot in the paint to tie the game at 57 and force overtime.  

From there, Jeffers struggled. Both Turner and David Jukkala fouled out, and Bessemer began to take advantage of mismatches.  

Without Jukkala, there was a hole in the paint and Bessemer’s big man was able to capitalize, with Busch scoring eight of his 15 points in overtime.  

“I saw a lot of toughness from Tyler [Busch],” Matrella said. “He took a shot to the nose right at the end of the first half and then he came back. He played tough and knocked down some free throws at the end.” 

Bessemer had its hands full with the Jets and with a new head coach in Keteri, Matrella didn’t know what to expect schematically. He anticipated a full-court press and a close contest, but after that, he had the Speedboys prepared for anything. 

In practice, they worked on breaking multiple presses, battling inside, and chasing down rebounds.  

Matrella wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what to expect with Keteri’s Jets. In fact, multiple people weren’t even expecting Keteri. 

“The people doing the book and doing the scoreboard didn’t even know I was coaching, they thought [the former coach] was still here,” Keteri said with a laugh. 

 Now, after Jeffers held close with Bessemer, they know who he is. With one game in the books, Keteri said he feels relaxed and ready for the next test. Jeffers will head to Dollar Bay on Thursday at 7:20 p.m., and Bessemer hits the road against Wakefield-Marenisco at 7:30 p.m. on the same day.  

–  – – 

Bessemer 10 17 17 13 14 – 71 

Jeffers 16 17  9  15 6 – 63 

Bessemer – Mazzon 15, Aspinwall 2, U. Aili 7, I. Aili 3, Janczak 7, Rowe 7, Tomes 15, Busch 15. FTs: 25-44. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Aspinwall. 

Jeffers – Kinnunen 11, Wakeham 6, Heinonen 9, Hill 6, Turner 25, Jukkala 6. FTs: 11-17. Fouls: 19.  Fouled out: Turner, Jukkala, Hill. Technicals: Turner.   

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