Ontonagon holds Bessemer scoreless in 4th for 49-32 win

Ontonagon's Jenny Labyak shoots during Friday night's game at the House of Noise in Bessemer. (Jason Juno/ Daily Globe (Ironwood))

BESSEMER — Ontonagon forced Bessemer into two long scoring droughts that totaled about half the game, including the entire fourth quarter, and the Gladiators won the Copper Mountain Conference contest 49-32 Friday night.

The Gladiators had lost four straight, including two where they were held scoreless in a quarter themselves. Their last win came on Dec. 22.

“We’re not 0 for 2018 anymore, that’s what feels good,” Ontonagon coach Dick Franti said. “It’s been a tough stretch in January, so it feels really good to get a win.”

Bessemer took a 6-4 lead in the first quarter but was stuck at 6 until midway through the second quarter as Ontonagon scored 16 straight points for a 20-6 lead.

“We hit some shots,” Franti said. “We’ve been really struggling with our shooting, we’ve been in the 30s all January.”

It was still a 14-point game, 26-12 at the half.

“I challenged the girls at halftime to play with emotion and pick up the pace a little bit,” Bessemer coach Gerry Pelissero said.

They responded.

It was almost all Bessemer in the third quarter as the team’s post players scored all 20 of its points. Caitlin Lynch had nine of her 13 in the third, Taylor Marchello scored all nine of her points and Hanna Koivisto had the other two third-quarter points.

“We had a height advantage, especially on them and we focused on being patient and get the ball down low,” Pelissero said. “That’s what we did, we got the ball down low. No matter how you look at it, if we’re not going to make any 3s and we’re not going to get a lot of scoring from our guards, then we have to get the ball down in the post and in the block and score from there.”

“They really hurt us in that third quarter with (Lynch),” Franti said. “They ran basically a man-to-man play against our matchup and they just killed us. She was tough. We finally had to sag way in.”

Lynch’s bucket with 1:03 left in the third pulled Bessemer within 34-32.

But that was the last time the Speedgirls scored.

Ontonagon led 35-32 going into the fourth. The Gladiators sealed it at the foul line, where they went 11 of 12. Izabelle Lutz scored nine of her game-high 14 points in the frame, including a 3, which was the only field goal in the fourth.

“Fortunately we made some free throws down the stretch,” Franti said. “I thought Izabelle Lutz really came on for us, especially down the stretch with her free throws. She hit a couple 3s and she played the way I’d like to see her play regularly.”

The comeback in the third quarter took a lot out of the Speedgirls, especially their post players.

“We spent so much energy and so much emotion getting back in the game that we had no legs left in the fourth quarter,” Pelissero said. “They had one field goal in the fourth quarter. Everything else was because we were tired, we didn’t move on defense and we got them to the free throw line. … Good, solid teams win games at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.”

Ontonagon (6-5, 6-2) hosts L’Anse Monday. Bessemer (4-7, 3-6) goes to Dollar Bay Tuesday.

– – –

Ontonagon 18 8 9 14 — 49

Bessemer 6 6 20 0 — 32

Ontonagon – Kinsey Weisinger 1, Ella Menigoz 2, Teddy Menigoz 6, Jenny Labyak 6, Izabelle Lutz 14, Fahren Kolpack 6, MacKenzie Fredrickson 2. FTs: 17-24. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: T. Menigoz 2, Lutz 2.

Bessemer – Hailey Marchello 2, Kelsey Kitto 2, Bethany Novascone 2, Caitlin Lynch 13, Karli Trcka 2, Taylor Manchester 9, Hanna Koivisto 2. FTs: 8-16. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Emily Matonich. 3-pointers: None.

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