Houghton rallies past Hancock for 46-34 win

Houghton’s Madi Dillinger drives to the basket as Hancock’s Mialy Brooks defends Monday in Houghton. (Eden Laase/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — With 1:44 remaining on the clock, Julie Filpus stands on the sideline, casually chatting with the ref and drinking tea out of a white styrofoam cup, topped with a black plastic lid. Filpus is a picture of calmness, and looking at her, it’s hard to imagine that her Houghton Gremlins trailed Hancock by ten points at the half.

But they did. Then, suddenly those ten points disappeared, and Houghton (7-4, 4-1) built a lead of its own, defeating Hancock 46-34 in a West-PAC game at Houghton.

The Gremlins trailed 21-11 at halftime after scoring just four points in the second quarter. But a 20-5 run in the third quarter helped them gain and maintain the lead.

When they finally started scoring, Filpus was more than ready.

“We were due,” she said. “But it is all on the kids’ shoulders, it is all on the kids deciding what team they want to be.”

The way Filpus sees it, she has two teams on her hands: The one that played the first half, and the one that played the second. It has been that way more than once this season — most recently in a 57-30 loss to West Iron County when the Gremlins were held to nine first-half points.

“Our seniors have to figure out what team they want to be, and this coach would much rather coach the second-half team,” she said.

When the game opened, Hancock (7-5, 1-3) and Houghton traded baskets in the first period, and the quarter ended with a little Hancock lead at 11-7. But the Bulldogs built on their lead in the second, going on a 10-4 run, and extending it to 10.

They attacked the basket and found driving lanes by cutting and running a motion offense. Defensively the Bulldogs clogged up the middle, making it difficult for Houghton to attack. The Gremlins settled for outside shots and struggled to move the ball, standing around at times.

That’s not the team Filpus wants to coach. The team she likes is the one that outscored Hancock 35-13 in the second half.

And as Houghton found its groove, Hancock fell apart.

“We played about as perfect as we could have in the first half,” Hancock coach Jack Johnson said. “In the second half, we knew they were going to go on a run, and that was the message at halftime, but at times with young kids, it is hard to gauge their response in that situation, and I think tonight ultimately what happened was you had a senior-led team that knew they were going to go on a run. They were confident, and our girls played hard but they fell apart. We just couldn’t keep it together mentally.”

With 4:48 left in the third period, Johnson saw his team’s lead dwindle to 23-20, and the coach was forced to call a timeout. In the huddle, he told his team to relax and keep playing.

Delaney Heinonen responded by hitting a 3-pointer to give Hancock a six-point lead. But it was short-lived.

Mackenzie Klein answered with a 3 of her own, and two possessions later, with 2:30 remaining in the third, she gave Houghton the lead on a drop step at the low block. After going up 27-26, Houghton never trailed again.

Klein had 13 points with eight coming in the decisive third quarter.

“We have been seeing steady progress from Mackenzie all season, and she stepped up confidently and hit her 3s and put herself in a position for some points down low,” Filpus said.

As a whole, the Gremlins picked up their aggression in the second half on both offense and defense. Klein hit two 3-pointers in the run, but the Gremlins saw their lead build as they began to attack the basket with confidence. Kendra Monette, who finished with eight points, led the charge.

“We had much more energy in the second half,” Filpus said. “Yesterday in practice, we challenged Kendra Monette to dominate the second half, and the way she dominates is by making strong cuts, setting up teammates, getting some putbacks, and I thought she did that.”

Defensively, the Gremlins were able to cut off the Bulldogs as they attempted to create driving lanes. And when Hancock had opportunities, the team couldn’t convert.

“In the second half, [Houghton] really picked up pressure,” Johnson said. “We had some looks in the third that didn’t fall. We had three or four shots right at the basket that didn’t fall, and had we made them I think the game changes, that pressure quits mounting.”

Houghton got a balanced scoring effort in the contest. In addition to Klein’s 13 and Monette’s eight, Kara Pietila and Harlee Froberg each chipped in with ten points.

“That is typical of this team,” Filpus said. “We move the ball around well, we have a lot of capable scorers, and I feel like we are always at our best when we have balance.”

For Hancock Taylor Sebbas scored 12 points.

Next up Hancock welcomes Lake Linden-Hubbell Thursday at 7:15 p.m., and Houghton hosts Kingsford Friday at 7:15 p.m.

– – –

Hancock 11      10      5       8       —       34

Houghton 7       4       20      15      —       46

Hancock — Abby Brooks 6, Mialy Brooks 2, Marina Kero 2, Sebbas 12, Pertile 1, D’Andra Kero 6, Heineken 7. F: 14. Fouled out: None. Free throws: 2-4. 3-point field goals: Mialy Brooks 2, D’Andra Hero 2.

Houghton –Dillinger 5, Pietila 10, Kelin 13, Monette 8, Froberg 10. F: 7. Fouled out: None. Free throws: 8-13. 3-point field goals: Klein 3, Froberg.