Suffocating defense, Ojala going off for 28 lead Calumet over Jeffers

Jeffers’ Justin Heinonen and Calumet’s Evan Hyrkas battle for a rebound Tuesday in Calumet.Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette Jeffers’ Justin Heinonen and Calumet’s Evan Hyrkas battle for a rebound Tuesday in Calumet. (Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET — Tough-minded stingy defenses have long been the hallmark of the Calumet Copper Kings. But now with junior Matt Ojala emerging as one of the premier scorers in the area, Calumet has become one of the more well-rounded teams in the Copper Country.

And when both are on, they’re as tough a matchup for anyone, as the Jeffers Jets found out Tuesday.

Ojala scored 28 points while Calumet limited Jeffers to 25 percent shooting (13-51) in a 62-41 nonconference win in Calumet.

“When this team is right defensively with the right mindset out there, we’re pretty good,” Calumet coach Mike Ojala said. “We just kept amping on the pressure on their guards and really started forcing turnovers. The guard ball pressure was really good tonight.

“It’s just a matter of five guys on the floor buying in and making sure you’re getting after it. I’m proud of how they went after it.”

Calumet’s defense began to take over in the second quarter, forcing the Jets into seven turnovers. Junior Travis Ojala capped a 13-0 Calumet run after the Jets seventh miscue led to a fast-break layup for a 26-15 lead.

“Calumet, every year, no matter what they have, is probably one of the best defensive teams you’ll face,” Jeffers coach Trent Keteri said. “They have that Calumet mentality and play tough all the time … Their intensity is what just killed us.”

With Travis Ojala leading the defense on Jeffers’ leading scorer, senior Carson Turner, the Jets were rarely able to penetrate and find high-percentage shots inside. Out of Jeffers’ 51 shot attempts, 33 came from 3-point range where they made seven (21 percent).

Turner and senior David Jukkala each led the Jets with 10 points.

“I was fine with a lot of the 3s, but when we had good matchups in the post, we couldn’t get it inside,” Keteri said. “We were either moving the ball too slow or we weren’t getting it where we wanted it to. I wish we would have attacked more, too.”

Jeffers’ (5-5) scoring woes continued into the third; the Jets made just one basket. Meanwhile, a pull-up jumper from Matt Ojala and a layup by senior Cooper Twardzik capped a 10-2 Calumet run for a 40-23 lead with 1:56 left in the third quarter.

“We talked about coming out the right way in the third quarter,” Mike Ojala said. “We’ve had lapses this year where we haven’t done that … Where we softened up and allow other teams to get easy looks. It’s a work in progress with us, yet, but we took some strides tonight.”

Matt Ojala put the game out of reach with back-to-back 3s from the left wing for a 54-33 lead. Ojala shot 4 of 5 from 3 for the game and was 3 of 3 in the second half.

“Matt had the dribble-drive on us and the pull-up. He was just too fast,” Keteri said.

Ojala scored 26 of his 28 points over the final three quarters. During that span, he made 11 of 15 shot attempts, including everything from pull-up 3s, to acrobatic layups in traffic.

“He was good at getting to the rim tonight,” Mike Ojala said. “It was good to see him knocking down that perimeter shot as well … Part of that had to do with being engaged defensively, and then in that second half he got it rolling.”

As a team, Calumet (7-3) made 25 of 49 shots (51 percent) and was 7 of 18 from 3-point range (39 percent).

Next, Calumet heads to Houghton on Thursday for a West-PAC showdown. Jeffers goes to Republic-Michigamme on Thursday.

Jeffers 10 11 4 16 — 41

Calumet 9 19 12 22 — 62

Jeffers — Kinnunen 7, Heinonen 2, Mattila 3, Hill 9, Turner 10, Jukkala 10. F: 11; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 8-12; 3-point field goals: Jukkala 3, Turner 2, Mattila, Kinnunen.

Calumet — Harmala 3, Matt Ojala 28, Travis Ojala 9, Antilla 4, McParlan 5, Hyrkas 3, Twardzik 8, Ekdahl 2. F: 10; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 5-9; 3-point field goals: Matt Ojala 4, Antilla, Harmala, Hyrkas.

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