Revenge served

Houghton beats Calumet to avenge last year’s defeats

Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton’s Sloane Zenner shoots a layup over Calumet’s Amber Johnson as Lea Bjorn (middle) looks on Tuesday in Houghton

HOUGHTON — Last season, the Houghton Gremlins experienced angst and disappointment against the Calumet Copper Kings.

They were outmuscled in the first meeting in Calumet (44-31) before losing a heartbreaker at home (46-42). The losses marked the first time Houghton fell to Calumet since 1999 and eventually led to the end of Houghton’s 16-year West-PAC championship streak.

But those hard-earned lessons prepared the experienced Gremlins to exact revenge on Tuesday, as Houghton overwhelmed Calumet 56-40 for a West-PAC victory in Houghton.

The win gives Houghton sole possession of first in the conference standings.

“I think (those losses) were in the back of the minds of our seniors. For me, it’s a West-PAC win,” Houghton head coach Julie Filpus said. “They got pushed around as juniors last year against Calumet and they had a nice turnaround tonight.”

Right from the tip, the veteran-laden Gremlins (10-0, 3-0) appeared more comfortable than their counterparts  on one of the season’s biggest stages, scoring the game’s first nine points. Their energy and athleticism took advantage of Calumet’s noticeable tentativeness.

The Gremlins made five of their first six shots to take an 11-2 lead midway through the opening quarter. By the end of the first, the game felt like it could be on the verge of a blowout with the Gremlins leading 18-6 and Calumet (5-4, 3-1) having made just 3 of 12 shots with five turnovers.

It was essentially a flipped script from last year, but this time, with just senior Hailey Wickstrom and Lea Bjorn as the lone returnees for Calumet, it was the Copper Kings who struggled to find an offensive rhythm against a more experienced and purposeful team.

“Our youth showed tonight,” Calumet head coach Jeff Twardzik said. “The experience of being in a game like this, an atmosphere like this, we have to just focus on what we do and not letting that control our play.”

Like a typical youthful team, Calumet did eventually find themselves as the game wore on. And despite Houghton’s 7 for 14 start in the first quarter, the Gremlins went cold in the second, converting just 3 of 15 shots.

But Calumet would only get as close as seven when Wickstrom, who finished with game-highs of 17 points and 15 rebounds, scored a layup off a pick-and-roll off an assist from junior Niina Anderson to trim Houghton’s lead to 26-19 with 20 seconds left in the second.

Despite Houghton’s off shooting, Calumet never could fully capitalize.

“When we went in at halftime, there was that last minute-and-a-half that I think we could have had the deficit at five,” Twardzik said.

However, Houghton senior Cara Monette answered Wickstrom’s basket with a baseline jumper to give her team a 28-19 advantage going into halftime. Monette and junior Madi Dillinger led the Gremlins with 11 points.

“We missed some shots in the second that would have opened some things up for us,” Filpus said, “but besides from the last few minutes of the fourth, our defense was on.”

None moreso than in the third quarter.

Similar to the first half, Houghton pounced on Calumet at the start of the second half with its suffocating defense. Calumet scored just two points in the third and was 0 for 12 from the field  with five turnovers.

“I couldn’t even say that we didn’t have open looks. We just have to get in rhythm and shoot it with confidence,” Twardzik said. “Don’t shoot like, ‘I hope this is going in.’ Shoot like, ‘This is going in.’ There’s a huge difference between them, and that’s just the way we have to shoot.”

Houghton made sure there would be no lingering doubt about the outcome with a 41-21 lead after three.

Calumet would nearly match its three-quarter point total (21) with 19 in the fourth, but it was too late.

For the game, Calumet shot 14 of 51 (28 percent) and finished with 15 turnovers.

“I would credit Madi Dillinger, Kendra Monette and Cara Monette for their pressure on the perimeter,” Filpus said of her defense. “We made (Calumet’s) guards uncomfortable on the perimeter, and that in turn makes it harder for them to get the ball inside.”

Houghton shot 22 of 56 (39 percent) for the game with 11 turnovers. The Gremlins held a 40-38 edge on the boards.

Next, Houghton hosts West Iron County on Friday. Calumet welcomes Chassell on Monday.

Calumet 6 13 2   19         40

Houghton 18 10 13   15       56

Calumet –Anderson 4, Bjorn 9, Johnson 1, Kariniemi 9, Wickstrom 17. F: 14; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Bjorn 3.

Houghton — Dillinger 11, Ryynanen 3, Zenner 10, Cara Monette 11, Colling 6, Froberg 7, Magyar 3, Pietila 5. F: 13; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 9-15; 3-point field goals: Dillinger, Cara Monette, Magyar.


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