Dollar Bay puts it all together to defeat Chassell 61-43

Daily Mining Gazette/Bryce Derouin Dollar Bay’s Jacob Iacono shoots as Chassell’s Grant Hokenson defends Friday in Chassell.

CHASSELL — With Class D District 128 poised to be a highly competitive affair, Friday’s matchup between the Dollar Bay Blue Bolts and Chassell Panthers had the opportunity to provide an indicator of where two of the major teams in the district currently stand.

And the end result?

The Blue Bolts made a resounding statement, proving they have all the skill and athleticism to capture a district title. As for Chassell, there’s still work to be done.

Dollar Bay shot 23 of 48 (48 percent) and held Chassell to 28 percent shooting in a dominant showing to earn a 61-43 Copper Mountain Conference win in Chassell.

“To come out here on their floor — on a Friday night at the end of the season — and control the game, says to me that we’re ready,” Dollar Bay head coach Jesse Kentala said.

Dollar Bay junior Jaden Janke led the scoring with 21 points, and junior Devin Schmitz added 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Off the bench, senior Cade Klobucarich scored 14 points. Those three combined to shoot 20 of 34 from the field. From 3, Janke (6 of 10) and Klobucarich (4 of 7) were 10 of 17.

“It seemed like every 3 they put up was going in,” Chassell head coach Bill Sleeman said.

The game-deciding stretch lasted from midway through the second, into the start of the third, as Dollar Bay (14-4, 11-2) went on a 17-4 run to go ahead 37-20. The run was capped by 3s from Klobucarich and Janke that came in the first two minutes of the third quarter.

For Janke, it was an impressive bounce-back performance after he scored just four points against the Hancock Bulldogs in Tuesday’s 66-57 win. His final 3 of the night put the game out of reach, giving the Blue Bolts a 59-36 advantage early in the fourth.

“We absolutely have to have these guys coming down the stretch,” Kentala said, “and Jaden knows it. He knows how valuable he is.

“Our key with him is just to say, ‘You’re a shooter and shooters shoot, so keep shooting the ball.'”

Chassell’s signature defensive pressure was never able to bother the Blue Bolts for much of the night. The Panthers entered Friday averaging 18.5 steals per game, but only managed nine on Friday against the composed backcourt of Schmitz and sophomore Brenden LeClaire.

“They do a very good job of controlling the ball,” Sleeman said. “Our goal tonight wasn’t necessarily to create a lot of turnovers, we were just hoping to control the game, more or less.

“We didn’t go our normal pressure much of the game… Most of the game, we were just trying to be close enough that they know we’re there, but not close enough that they’re blowing by us.”

Despite being better known for their skilled guards and ability to light up a scoreboard, it was Dollar Bay’s man defense that controlled the game in front of a packed gym. The Panthers shot just 6 of 30 (20 percent) in the first half and trailed 31-18 at the half. And as Janke and Klobucarich got things going, Chassell could never find any offensive rhythm, finishing 17 of 61 from the field.

“We thought they were strong-hand dependent, and we wanted to take some of their scorers and put them in uncomfortable situations and force them into their off-hand,” Kentala said of defending Chassell. “Just make sure that we had good help all night long.

“Take away the drive before the 3 was our plan, and we did that real well tonight.”

Chassell senior Hunter Rautiola led the Panthers (10-9, 7-7) with 15 points.

It didn’t help Chassell that sophomore Abe Gockenbach was clearly less than 100 percent in the brief playing time he saw, due to an ankle injury. Gockenbach exited the fourth quarter in Chassell’s 62-59 win over the Calumet Copper Kings on Feb. 17 and did not return. He sat out Tuesday’s 75-32 win over the Baraga Vikings and practiced for the first time on Wednesday.

Gockenbach did not start but did enter the game with 5 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the second quarter. However, Sleeman has decided to take a cautious approach in working him back in with districts in mind; therefore, Gockenbach didn’t play in the second half.

“He looked a little uncomfortable,” Sleeman said. “We said we’d see how he felt in warmups and he felt all right. In the second quarter, he said he wouldn’t mind trying to play and see how it feels.

“He still doesn’t look 100 percent, so we didn’t try to push it beyond that point.”

Next, Dollar Bay hosts Republic-Michigamme on Tuesday, while Chassell wraps up a five-game home stand when they welcome Lake Linden-Hubbell on the same day.

Dollar Bay 13 18 20 10 — 61

Chassell 9 9 13 12 — 43

Dollar Bay — LeClaire 2, Iacono 4, Schmitz 20, Janke 21, Klobucarich 14. F: 13; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 5-6; 3-point field goals: Janke 6, Klobucarich 4.

Chassell — Rautiola 15, Tervo 2, Barnes 3, Holmes 4, Goddard 9, Pieitla 4, Kytta 1, Kinnunen 5. F: 11; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 5-8; 3-point field goals: Rautiola 2, Barnes, Goddard.