Loud, clear

Janke, Dollar Bay make statement in 69-47 district win over Ontonagon

Bryce Derouin/Daily Mining Gazette Dollar Bay’s Jaden Janke goes up for a layup as Ontonagon’s Tanner Balcomb goes for the block Monday in Baraga.

BARAGA — When asked about being left off the Copper Mountain Conference Elite Team, Dollar Bay junior Jaden Janke was diplomatic in his response. 

“Those are some good players that got it over me,” he said. “Coach (Jesse Kentala) mentioned it and just challenged me. I kind of used that to fuel me, but I really just wanted to get the win tonight.”

Despite his soft-spoken nature, Janke made a resounding statement in staking his claim as one of the best players in the conference in front of a jam-packed Baraga gym. Janke scored 34 points (14 of 24 shooting) to lead the Dollar Bay Bolts to a 69-47 victory over the Ontonagon Gladiators in Monday’s Class D District 128 opener. 

Now, Dollar Bay (17-4) will face the Jeffers Jets (16-4) Wednesday at 6 p.m. in a district semifinal.

“Jaden had a chip on his shoulder,” Kentala said. “Jaden thought he was Elite, and he wanted to prove some people wrong tonight.

“We saw that we had success against them, in the past, on the attack off the bounce. Getting by the first guy and forcing them to defend us in the paint. Jaden took that game strategy, and he took it on his shoulders, and attacked time and time again.”

Both Dollar Bay and Ontonagon (12-9) got off to slow starts. The Blue Bolts missed their first five shots as they struggled to develop a rhythm against an Ontonagon team that had a 2-3-inch and 15-20-pound advantage at four of the five starting positions. 

But like any shooter will tell you: it only takes one. 

With Ontonagon leading 6-5 late in the first quarter, Janke launched a 3 from the top of the key that spun around the rim, bounced up and fell in for his first of four 3s (4 of 8) on the night. Following an Ontonagon foul under the basket during Janke’s shot, Dollar Bay retained possession and Janke swished another 3 seconds after his previous 3-pointer to give his team an 11-6 lead with 1 minute, 58 seconds left in the first. 

“You kind of loosen up after you hit that first shot,” Janke said. “Then you hit the second and it’s just on from there.”

Janke scored 15 first-half points, and Ontonagon was able to withstand his first-half scoring output as the Gladiators trailed 28-24 at halftime despite 13 turnovers against Dollar Bay’s full-court pressure. 

Then everything went wayward in an instant. 

Ontonagon lost its composure in the third quarter, turning the ball over 11 times and getting up just four shots while they were outscored 24-8 in the game-deciding quarter. There were balls sailing out of bounds over their intended target, and passes intercepted by opportunistic Dollar Bay defenders. The chaos that ensued from Dollar Bay’s pressure never allowed Ontonagon to exploit the smaller Blue Bolts in the halfcourt with their size and strength advantage.

Ontonagon finished with 27 turnovers.

“We attempted to get in our offense a number of times but more often than not, we didn’t get through the first phase of our motion or anything,” Ontonagon head coach Andy Borseth said. “They were double-teaming and putting a lot of pressure on us. They took our offense away and didn’t allow us to get a little pass into the post.”

Dollar Bay’s victory avenged the 65-61 loss on Dec. 6 and the 64-56 defeat on Feb. 10 to the Gladiators. In those matchups, Dollar Bay attempted to limit Ontonagon’s interior game by going zone and not pressuring. For the third matchup, Kentala decided it was time for his team to play to their athletic and quickness strengths after seeing the Chassell Panthers confound Ontonagon with its speed in a 64-48 win over the Gladiators on Feb. 14.

“We felt early on, we could zone them and try to frustrate their bigs with a 2-3 zone,” Kentala said. “We felt their guards wouldn’t beat us, and they proved us wrong twice. They hit shots and found ways into the post.

“We said scrap that and decided to go with maximum pressure.”

With Ontonagon out of synch to start the third, Janke scored the first 10 points of the second half and capped the 10-0 run with two 3s to give his team a 38-24 lead.

Dollar Bay would get fast-break layups from sophomore Brendan LeClaire and junior Jacob Iacono, followed by a free throw from Janke, for a 15-0 run and a 43-24 advantage. From there, Dollar Bay erased any doubt about the outcome. 

“We knew you can’t take both (Devin Schmitz) and Janke out of the game,” Borseth said. “One of them is going to get theirs. 

“We thought we could force Janke to drive a little bit more and help out on the drive and take the 3 away. He drove by and got his layups, then our guys got nervous and backed off and he shot those nice 3s.”

Iacono scored 11 points and Schmitz finished with 10 for a Dollar Bay team that shot 27 of 58 (47 percent) and turned it over just 11 times. 

Ontonagon was 17 of 39 (44 percent) and held a 29-27 rebounding edge. Junior Jaden Weisinger led the Gladiators with 11 points. 

Ontonagon 10 14 8 15 — 47

Dollar Bay 15 13 24 17 — 69

Ontonagon — Polakowski 8, Weisinger 11, Domitrovich 5, Borseth 7, Howard 3, Menigoz 4, Balcomb 7, Heikkinen 2. F: 16; Fouled out” None; Free throws: 10-12; 3-point field goals: Weisinger, Domitrovich, Balcomb.

Dollar Bay — LeClaire 8, Iacono 11, Devin Schmitz 10, Janke 34, Klobucarich 3, Drake Schmitz 3. F: 17; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 8-13; 3-point field goals: Janke 4, Devin Schmitz, Drake Schmitz, Klobucarich.