Chassell holds off Baraga 44-36, will face Onto for district title

Chassell’s Sophia Huhta looks to get position against Baraga’s Chelsea Pittsley Wednesday in Painesdale. (Paul Peterson photo)

PAINESDALE — Like many underdog teams of the past, the Baraga Vikings kept hanging around Wednesday night against the Chassell Panthers in Class D district semifinal play.

Baraga gave the No. 6 state-ranked Panthers all they wanted before falling to a 44-36 defeat — leaving Chassell coach Brandi Hainault visibly drained afterward.

“I don’t know that I didn’t expect a tough game tonight,” Hainault said. “But we didn’t play our usual game …. and (Baraga) made it really tough on us.”

How tough was Chassell’s 21st win of the season?

Well, the determined Vikings had the lead down to 39-34 with just 1:45 remaining and had a 3-point attempt rim out.

Chassell got the rebound and received a big basket by Meg Hokenson to make it 41-34. Free throws by Milly Allen and Lela Rautiola upped the count to 43-36 with just 22 seconds left.

Baraga coach Tom Goodreau said he told his team it could stick with anyone and pointed to earlier wins over Jeffers and Ewen-Trout Creek.

“The girls believed that they could win this game,” Goodreau said. “We just weren’t able to keep (Sydney Danison) off the boards late in the game. That killed us.”

The 6-foot-2 Danison kept her team ahead, scoring 18 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds. Hainault also gave credit to Danison.

“Sydney played a phenomenal game tonight,” she said. “This is the time of year when you look for your leaders to show the way, and she certainly did.”

Inability to convert inside shots in the first quarter limited the winners to a 10-4 lead after eight minutes. The taller Panthers missed 10 shots in a row at one point, including several easy shots.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Hainault said. “Monday night (against Jeffers) it was free throws. Tonight, it was close-in shots. We have to get better if we’re going to beat Ontonagon Friday.”

While they settled down and took a 25-16 lead at halftime, the Panthers couldn’t shake the persistent Vikings.

Baraga, behind the spectacular play of Marti Jahfetson, sliced the lead to 33-27 by the end of the period.

And the Purple and Gold made it 33-31 on a three-point play by Erin Kamarainen with just over five minutes to play.

But Danison converted a pair of free throws and hit a putback to keep her team ahead for good.

Goodreau, whose team’s tallest player is 5-6, said there’s no substitute for size.

“Chassell has it and that is what makes them such a tough team to beat,” he said.

Hokenson was next in scoring for Chassell with 11 points. Allen was limited to just four points but had eight rebounds and five assists.

Jahfetson tossed in a game-leading 20 points for the 11-10 Vikings, drawing the praise of her coach.

“We only have a couple of seniors and she (Jahfetson) had to adopt the role of one of our leaders this season,” Goodreau said. “She did that and had a great game tonight.”

The Panthers meet Ontonagon at 7 p.m. Friday for the district title and Hainault said her team has to “really patch it out” before then.

“Ontonagon is playing some really good basketball and they have a great coach in Dick Franti,” she said. “We have to find some answers.”

– – –

Baraga 4 17 11 9 — 36

Chassell 10 13 8 11 — 44

BARAGA — Kamarainen 5, M. Jahfetson 20, Kakhonen 3, Koskinen 5, Lindemann 3, Tembruell 5. FT: 11-19; Rebounds: 22 (Koskinen 6); Fouls: 18; Fouled out: Pittsley; 3-point FG: M. Jahfetson 1.

CHASSELL — Pietila 6, Hokenson 11; Danison 18; Allen 4, Rautiola 5. FT: 15-27; Rebounds: 28 (Danison 15); Fouls: 14; Fouled out; None; 3-point FG: Pietila 1.