Butvilas, Sirard combine for 64 points as Gremlins win, 75-65

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton coach Jared Lawson addresses his team during a timeout in the first half of a game against Ishpeming Wednesday at the Houghton Gym.

HOUGHTON — It took most of the first quarter for the Houghton Gremlins boys basketball team to heat up. About six and a half minutes into the first quarter, like popcorn on a stove, the Gremlins started popping and never looked back in a 75-65 victory over the visiting Ishpeming Hematites Wednesday at the Houghton Gym.

Houghton senior guard George Butvilas had 31 points before the only thing that seemed to slow him down, muscle cramps, proved to be more than he could handle. Junior forward Brad Sirard picked up the slack and finished with a game-high 33 points in the victory.

Ishpeming coach Anthony Katona had a simple description for what the pair accomplished.

“They got in a rhythm,” said Katona. “It got contagious with them. They shot the ball really well tonight.

“I think that, overall, Houghton was the best shooting team we have seen all year.”

Butvilas put up 14 of his 31 in the opening quarter as he had an answer for everything the Hematites threw his way. From there, the toyed with the Hematites’ defense, changing up the speed of his attack. He would get down the court, stop, skip a beat, then blow around a double team and drive the hoop with ease.

Gremlins coach Jared Lawson, whose team racked up over 70 points a game on back-to-back nights, was honest about how hard his star guard works in practice to help him in games dictate play.

“The last two nights, he’s been really feeling it,” said Lawson. “The one thing I need to state is how much time he puts in. He’s in here in the morning before school, and he’s in here after practice putting his time in. It’s paying off for him.

“He was hitting step-backs. He was hitting post-ups. He was hitting threes. He was taking a variety of shots.”

As Katona had his team start to try to switch things up defensively and started to box Butvilas in a bit, he kicked the ball out to Sirard, who was more than happy to hit his share of long jumpers and mix in four threes as he found separation from Ishpeming’s 6-foot-8 Darius Yohe.

Lawson was proud of his third-year forward for having the patience to take what Yohe gave him after struggling early.

“Brad, in the third quarter, he got it going,” said Lawson. “Next thing you know, one guy picks up where the other guy left off. Brad got his outside game going… You give that kid the green light every time he has the ball because you believe he is going to make the next shot.”

Leading 41-28 heading into the second half, the Gremlins found ways to get Sirard the ball as often as possible, and he hit two threes in the third quarter and the Gremlins continued to find ways to move the ball around.

Yohe started to finding the hoop as well from outside the arc, hitting two of his four threes in the quarter as the Hematites started pressing the Gremlins the entire length of the floor.

Unfortunately, it was too little too late.

“I thought the effort was great there,” said Katona. “We executed well on the offensive end tonight. We scored enough to win. Most games, 65 points (should be enough).

“It’s just the little things. It takes a full team effort.”

While Sirard and Butvilas were both strong for the Gremlins, Lawson was also quick to mention the efforts of Sam Keskimaki and Wes Hyslop. The pair had five points each, all of which came at moments Houghton needed them.

“Sam and Wes had timely threes throughout the game,” said Lawson. “Those things help buoy us. It gets Brad and George going a little bit more.”

Ishpeming  18 10 19 18 – 65

Houghton  22 19 19  15 – 75

ISH: Sundberg 11, Jandreau 5, Argall 4, Yohe 24, Smith 4, Kugler 17; Fouls: 15; Fouled out: Yohe, Smith; 3-point field goals: Yohe 4, Kugler 3, Sundberg 3, Jandreau 1

HHS: Butvilas 31, Hyslop 5, Pruett 1, Sirard 33, Keskimaki 5; Fouls: 7; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Sirard 4, Butvilas 3, Hyslop 1, Keskimaki 1