Boys Basketball: Copper Kings outduel Wykons

Calumet's Brevin Antilla (5) shoots while being defended by West Iron County's Breyden Nelson (3) during an MHSAA Division 3 District 65 quarterfinal on Monday, March 9, 2020, in Calumet, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET — The Calumet Copper Kings are headed to the semi-finals in the Division 3 District 65 boys basketball tournament as they defeated the West Iron County Wykons 46-40 on Monday night at home.

It was a back-and-forth battle from start to finish. The two teams had played each other twice in the regular season with each team winning once.

“We knew what to expect coming into this one,” stated Copper Kings head coach Frank Bonacorsi. “We were patient and disciplined on offense and our defense was strong.”

A key component of Calumet’s defense was keeping the Wykons 6-foot-8 center, Justin Nelson, in check and the Copper Kings “big man” Eli McParlan did just that.

“I can’t say enough at how well Eli played against Nelson to hold him to just six points in the game,” Bonacorsi said. “Eli did a phenomenal job.”

The Wykons scored first off the tip by the Copper Kings came back on their first possession to match it at 2-2 and then 4-4. The first quarter was very much a defensive battle as both teams moved the ball well but struggled to get anything inside. It was a low scoring affair. After eight minutes, the Wykons led 9-5.

Starting the second, the Wykons moved the lead to 11-5 but not for long. Back-to-back three pointers by Dryden Nelson and Bevin Antilla even the score at 11 at the 3:29 mark. It was tied again at 15 before the two teams headed to the locker at half time with the Copper Kings on top 17-16.

The third quarter felt the same as the teams traded buckets. The game was tied at 20 and then at 22.

While the Wykons’ Brayden Nelson was the hot hand for West Iron County, Calumet’s Antilla gave the Copper Kings some breathing room with two three-pointers in a row to put the score at 28-26.

Antilla and Trevor Torola carried the Copper Kings offensively. They each had 16 points but hit some key three pointers along the way much to the delight of their coach.

“They did a great job hitting those shots and giving us a cushion at the end,” Bonacorsi said.

The third quarter came to an end with the game tied at 31.

The two teams stayed close deep into the fourth tied at 33 and 35. However thanks to a triple ball by Torola at the 2:27 mark the Copper Kings took their biggest lead of the night at 40-35. While the Wykons were able to come within three at 40-37, it wouldn’t be enough as Calumet was consistent at the free throw line to close out the game. As a team they were 13-17 from the line. Nelson was 7 -8.

“Strong shooting at the free-throw line made a big difference,” Bonacorsi said.

While it wasn’t the outcome he expected, Wykons head coach Dan Schive was pleased with the effort his team put in not just on Monday but throughout the whole season.

“They just outplayed us tonight,” Schive said. “We just did not have enough offense to do the job right. It was a good season because I had great kids who gave it their all. It was hard to lose the last one.”

The Copper Kings visit L’Anse on Wednesday in the district semifinal.

West Iron 9 7 15 9 — 40

Calumet 5 12 14 15 — 46

West Iron County (40): Thomas 6, Williams 4, Nelson 10, Ballinger 3, Dobson 8, Turbessi 3, Nelson 6. 3-point FG: 3 (Ballinger 1, Dobson 1, Turbessi 1) F: 18 FT: 7-12.

Calumet (46): Nelson 10, Antilla 16, Torola 16, McParlan 14. 3-point FG: 7 (Antilla 3, Nelson 1, Torola 3) F: 13 FT: 13-17.


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