E-TC edges Wakefield-Marenisco 47-39 in a battle of unbeatens

Ewen-Trout Creek’s Jake Witt finishes a dunk against Wakefield-Marenisco Monday, in Ewen. (Jason Juno/Daily Globe (Ironwood))

EWEN — By the midway point of the fourth quarter in Monday night’s battle of unbeatens against Wakefield-Marenisco, no Ewen-Trout Creek Panthers not named Jake Witt had combined to reach double figures in scoring yet.

Then they hit the two biggest shots of the game, back-to-back 3s by Ryan Driesenga and Eli Nordine, to give E-TC a lead after playing from behind basically the whole game.

They were part of a 20-4 fourth-quarter run that enabled the Panthers to survive a poor offensive night, rallying from a 12-point second half deficit for a 47-39 Copper Mountain Conference victory.

“Good win for us,” E-TC coach Brad Besonen said. “Not pretty, but you’ve got to have those in your season.”

E-TC’s Jake Witt finished with a hard-earned 27 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks. 

The Cardinals led 24-15 at halftime, making it hard for the Panthers to get it inside to Witt or for their shooters to get comfortable.

“I was really happy with our defense, to hold them to 15 points at halftime,” W-M coach Terry Fetters said. “We hustled. We doubled Jake when we could, we tried to limit his touches and I thought my guys did a really good job of that. Our was goal was trying to keep him under 30 and keep their other guys down. We closed out well, we contested a lot of 3s they missed.”

But all that hard work on the defensive end caught up to them in the fourth quarter, even if they started the period the right way.

W-M started the fourth quarter with a bucket by Jacob Suzik, who led the Cardinals with 20 points, and a steal and easy lay-in by Mason Saubert.

That put the Cardinals up 35-27.

But Witt started to turn the tide with back-to-back buckets inside; he put the second shot over the double team, bringing the Panthers within four, 35-31.

That’s when Driesenga and Nordine came up big. Driesenga’s 3 rimmed in and out and then back in to make it a one-point game with 4:35 on the clock. Thirty-five seconds later, Nordine dropped a 3 to give E-TC a 37-35 lead, its first since the first quarter.

Fetters called timeout and he could tell his team was out of gas, which resulted in some poor decisions along with being a step slower.

“Because of our tiredness, we couldn’t get out there quick enough like we did in the first half,” Fetters said. “They had a couple of wide open 3s that they hit. It seemed like they hit them when it counted. You have to give them credit.”

A putback by Erik Hakamaki tied the game, but it only paused E-TC’s surge momentarily. Witt made the go-ahead free throws with 3:20 left, Jaden Borseth followed with a layup and Witt got a tough shot to go inside to make it 43-37, the Panthers’ biggest lead of the night thus far. They held on from there.

Driesenga was out of town and missed a lot of practice and the Friday win over Bessemer, but he was big in the fourth.

“He comes out in the fourth quarter and hit a big 3,” Besonen said. “Then he hedged hard, they were using Brett Heil as their clock grinder there, just using him to try to dribble out clock, he was effective with it, you can’t take it from him, he’s too strong. Ryan jumped and hedged hard on that screen and got him to pick it up, created a travel and we got another bucket off it.”

Besonen thought W-M trying to kill some clock that way hurt their flow. Their second-half shooting also didn’t help.

While W-M was 4 of 9 from 3 in the first half, they were just 1 of 10 in the second half. E-TC improved from 4 of 14 from 2 in the first half to 8 of 12 in the second half and many of those were at the rim. They were also 6 of 7 from the line in the fourth quarter.

After allowing just 15 points in the first half, W-M scored just 15 in the second half.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” Fetters said. “They hung with it.”

Besonen hopes E-TC doesn’t have to grind out every win like this. They could just use some practice time with snow days and concerts — Besonen is also the band and choir director — eliminating most of those lately.

“To be 5-0 right now with that mess and the three tough teams we just played — Cal, Bessemer and Wake, is a testament to their mental toughness,” Besonen said. “We could have easily crumbled in that second half, but we showed some good sisu there in the second half, especially the fourth quarter.”

Witt slammed it home twice, a right-hander in the third quarter and a two-handed dunk in the fourth quarter that was called a charge. The defender appeared to be set, but he was very deep in the lane.

When Witt got the ball inside, he was unstoppable, double team or not. It was tough to get it to him, though, as W-M defended him well and Witt was 0 for 4 on mid-range shots, meaning W-M didn’t have to honor that part of his game.

E-TC’s offense was stagnant overall in the first half, making it hard to get the ball to Witt.

“We’ve moved the ball quite well so far against those junk defenses where there’s partial zones. For whatever reason tonight, we looked awful,” Besonen said. “We had the ball in one spot, we never got side to side. It doesn’t free things up down there when it stays on one side. Nobody dribble drove it. Oh, it was ugly first half-offensive basketball against the zone. 

“We have to get better against zones that have bigs. The two zones we faced with Ontonagon and these guys where they’ve got some beef down low and some athleticism with their length have caused us problems. Jake has been effective, we just have not been effective getting it to him.”

Saubert had 11 points for W-M.

E-TC hosts Drummond Friday night. W-M (4-1, 3-1) goes to Three Lakes Thursday.

– – –

W-M 13 11 7 8 — 39

E-TC 11 4 12 20 — 47

W-M – Mason Saubert 11, Jacob Suzik 20, Brett Heil 6, Erik Hakamaki 2. FTs: 2-7. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Saubert 3, Heil 2.

E-TC – Tommy Couisneau 3, Eli Nordine 5, Cole Borseth 2, Ryan Driesenga 3, Jaden Borseth 7, Jake Witt 27. FTs: 8-11. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Cousineau 1, Nordine 1, Driesenga 1, Witt 1. 


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