Blue Bolts show potential of being top team in win over Chassell

Chassell’s Elijah Soumis scores two of his 12 first-half points over Dollar Bay’s Jacob Iacono, middle, and Devin Schmitz, left, Tuesday in Dollar Bay. Dollar Bay was victorious in the matchup of unbeaten teams, 71-52. (Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette)

DOLLAR BAY — Dollar Bay’s four-game start to one of the most-anticipated seasons in school history can be characterized as inconsistent. There have been scoring droughts, defensive lapses and issues on the defensive glass.

But intertwined in those moments of weakness, Dollar Bay has displayed flashes of why the Blue Bolts are considered one of the top Class D teams in the U.P., and perhaps the state. One of those instances came on Tuesday when they used a 22-3 run against the Chassell Panthers in the third quarter to eventually earn a 71-52 Copper Mountain Conference win in Dollar Bay.

Dollar Bay senior Jaden Janke led the way with 20 points, while senior Devin Schmitz had 18 points and senior Jacob Iacono added 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Chassell senior Devin Kinnunen scored a team-high 13 points.

“We have spots where we’re absolutely brilliant, and it’s the team I envisioned and think we can be,” Dollar Bay coach Jesse Kentala said. “Then there are other times when I’m pulling out my hair, going, ‘Who are we? What are we doing?’

“Honestly, I think we’re at 50 percent still. There’s so much more we can get better at and improve.”

Chassell senior Grant Hokenson converted two free throws to tie the game at 36 with 4:54 left in the third quarter. From there, the Blue Bolts’ 22-3 run was fueled by converting 7 of 8 shots — including their first seven — and making all six attempts at the free-throw line while forcing the Panthers (4-1, 4-1) into six turnovers. Senior Brandon Thompson capped the run with two free throws for a 58-39 lead with 6:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Janke scored 10 of Dollar Bay’s points during the run and finished with 14 second-half points on 6 of 9 shooting. He also played an integral role in limiting Chassell’s big, junior Elijah Soumis, scoreless in the second half after Soumis scored 12 first-half points.

“Coach challenged me in the locker room to get better on offense and defense because I was not playing up to par,” Janke said. “I came out focused with a better mindset and started to put things down.”

Both teams shot 50 percent from the field with Chassell making 22 of 44 shots and Dollar Bay (4-0, 2-0) shooting 27 of 54. The difference was in turnovers, as Dollar Bay’s defensive pressure and ability to jump passing lanes forced Chassell into 23 miscues. Dollar Bay had just 13 turnovers and did not have to face the full-court pressure the Panthers have become known for in the area. Chassell sat back in a half-court man defense until the end of the fourth quarter.

In addition to limiting Soumis’ touches in the second half, Kentala credits junior Brendan LeClaire with his defense on Chassell junior Abe Gockenbach in igniting Dollar Bay’s run.

As for the Panthers, Chassell coach Bill Sleeman would prefer to see them not settle for 3s, where they shot just 4 of 14 (29 percent) for the game.

“Second half we just got away from what we wanted to do,” Sleeman said. “We’re not, per se, a 3-point shooting team. We need to be more consistent getting to the bucket. That’s where I feel we’re most effective. We have a number of guys that are really good at finishing once they get there. Just a matter of us staying consistent and attacking all night.”

Chassell’s other scoring drought came at the start of the second quarter. After Dollar Bay led 21-18, the Panthers were on the wrong end of a 7-0 run to start the period when they committed six turnovers and missed their first five shots. Chassell was scoreless until Soumis made a driving layup with just over three minutes left in the half for his team’s first points of the quarter to cut Dollar Bay’s lead to 28-20.

“We didn’t handle the ball very well,” Sleeman said. “But we got a lot of year left and a lot of things I feel we can improve on. We’re still all pretty amped and excited about the rest of the year.”

Near the end of the first half, Soumis capped a 12-3 run on another layup to cut Dollar Bay’s lead to 31-30. Then, Schmitz hit a fadeaway 3 from 27 feet out over his defender as the halftime buzzer sounded. What may have been even more impressive than the shot was Schmitz even being able to play. Throughout the day, Dollar Bay’s leading scorer was plagued by migraine headaches. As he sat on the bench before player introductions were announced, he took medicine to help dull the pain.

“Devin was really hurting,” Kentala said. “He gets those migraines, and once they hit, it makes for a long night for him. I really appreciate his gutty performance.”

Next, Dollar Bay goes to Lake Linden-Hubbell on Thursday. Chassell heads to Hancock on the same day.

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Chassell 18 12 9 13 — 52

Dollar Bay 21 13 17 20 — 71

Chassell — Warren 6, Hokenson 4, Gockenbach 6, Kytta 3, Barnes 8, Soumis 12, Kinnunen 13. F: 18; Fouled out: Barnes; Free throws: 4-5; 3-point field goals: Warren 2, Kytta, Kinnunen.

Dollar Bay — Drake Schmitz 3, LeClaire 4, Ashton Janke 2, Thompson 8, Devin Schmitz 18, Jaden Janke 20, Iacono 16. F: 9; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 10-18; 3-point field goals: Devin Schmitz 2, Thompson 2, Jaden Janke 2, Drake Schmitz.

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