Jeffers advances by squeezing past Watersmeet, 47-39

Pat Krause/Daily Globe (Ironwood) Jeffers’ Miranda Heinonen shoots during Monday’s Division 4 District 97 opener at the House of Noise in Bessemer.

BESSEMER — Watersmeet put up a good fight before falling to Jeffers 47-39 in the MHSAA Division 4 District 97 opening game in Bessemer on Monday night.

Jeffers will square off against Wakefield-Marenisco in the semifinals at Bessemer on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Watersmeet coach Brent Besonen was happy with his team’s performance on Monday night.

“That was probably the best we played all year,” Besonen said. “We knew what they’d show us and the girls did a great job offensively and defensively. The goal was to keep it tight and we did. We were patient on offense and reversed the ball well tonight. When we got impatient, that hurt us.

“Naomi Nelson stepped up and played well for us and Isabella Garrison is not a great scorer, but she does everything else so well out on the court.”

Jeffers coach Joe Romano was not so happy with his team.

“Give Watersmeet credit,” Romano said. “They were well-prepared. The best team didn’t win tonight. I’m very disappointed in our preparation. There’s no excuse for playing like that this far into the season. Marissa Nordstrom and Wendy Jurmu saved us. The key was we got that little spurt in the third quarter and went up by 13 (points).”

Both teams started out cold going almost three minutes without a score. But with 5:01 left in the quarter, Watersmeet’s Nelson banked in a three from beyond the top-of-the-key. Jeffers clamped on a full-court press, but the Nimrods handled it without much problem. Watersmeet broke the press and Hailey Pallin got open for a short range shot that gave the Nimrods a 5-3 advantage with 4:16 left in the quarter.

The Jets responded with a top-of-the-key three from Heidi Hillstrom to go up 12-6, but Garrison scored from six feet out to end the quarter at 12-8.

As the second quarter got under way, it was becoming apparent Watersmeet had to come to play. Garrison pulled the trigger on a triple from out on top and Nelson’s two free throws whittled the Jeffers lead to 13-12.

Then Jeffers answered back with seven straight points and took leads of 18-13 and 22-16.

Watersmeet’s Annabelle Besonen finished the half with two free throws (22-18) and the game had the feel it was going to be a close one.

Jeffers came out for the second half running every chance they got and either looking for lay-ups or pulling up for threes. The Jets increased their lead to 27-20, but Watersmeet got baskets from Katrina Lemery, a turnaround jumper from Pallin and three foul shots on drives to the basket from the lefty Lemery.

Then Besonen knocked down a three and the Nimrods were within one point at 29-28 with 3:06 left in the quarter.

But then Jeffers got the spurt Romano talked about and the Jets needed. They outscored the Nimrods 11-2 with triples and beating Watersmeet back on defense for lay-ups.

By the end of the third quarter, Jeffers’ lead expanded to 41-30.

Watersmeet went to a full-court press of its own in the fourth quarter but only cut the Jeffers lead to eight points at 47-39.

But Besonen was already thinking about next year as he walked out of the gym.

“We’re very young with a lot of eighth graders and freshmen and sophomores,” Besonen said. “We’re only losing two kids in the next two years. The future looks bright if we keep together and keep working.”

Brenna Hill topped Jeffers’ scoring with 14 points and Nordstrom notched 11.

Nelson was Watersmeet’s leading scorer with 11 points and Garrison added nine.

Jeffers 12 6 13 6 – 47

Watersmeet 8 14 8 9 – 39 

JHS: Heidi Hillstrom 5, Brenda Hill 14, Gracia Asiala 4, Marissa Nordstrom 11, Wendy Jurma 6, Miranda Heinonen 2. FT’s: 7-18, Fouls: 19, Fouled out: Gracia Asiala, 3-pointers: Marissa Nordstrom 2, Brenna Hill 1, Heidi Hillstrom 1.

WAT: Isabella Garrison 9, Hailey Pallin 2, Naomi Nelson 11, Ann Angel Snow 4, Annabella Besonen 5, Katrina Lemery 5, FT: 12-14:, Fouls: 19, Fouled out: none, 3-pointers: Isabella Garrison 1, Naomi Nelson 1, AnnAngel Snow 1, Annabelle Besonen 1.