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Jeffers topples L’Anse in semifinal

Jeffers’ Christian Hocking (34) puts up a layup against L’Anse in a MHSAA Division 3 District 65 semifinal on Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Painesdale, Mich. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

PAINESDALE — The high-flying Jeffers Jets are headed for a Division 3 District 65 district championship game.

The Jets punched their ticket with a resounding 76-31 semifinal win over the L’Anse Hornets Thursday night at the JHS Gymnasium.

The result will match the Jets against the Westwood Patriots at 7 p.m. Saturday in Painesdale.

JHS coach John Schutz said his team made some corrections early in the second quarter after L’Anse crept to within 20-16.

“It was definitely our defense that made the difference,” Schutz said. “We had to shake off some rust after a week off. Once we got going, it was tough to stop us.”

Was it ever.

The Jets went from that aforementioned 20-16 score to a 35-20 bulge at the half.

“You know with Jeffers, you’re going to get that big run,” LHS coach Kyle Koski said. “We just stopped doing the things we were doing to begin the game.”

The Purple Gang was effective early on when it hit some three-point baskets and got the ball inside to 6-foot-6 center Eli Ostermeyer. The latter scored 31 points in a win over Calumet two days ago.

But Jeffers pushed the margin to 62-24 by the end of the third period as scoring ace Christian Hocking, Ashton Kunishige and John Schutz got hot.

The 6-5 Hocking, who controlled the boards all night, finished with 20 points and 13 boards.

“(Hocking) is really tough to slow up,” Koski said. “And when the rest of them get going, you’re in big trouble.”

Levi Frahm came off the bench to contribute 17 points, hitting five treys.

Kunishige dropped in 13 more points, while Schutz tossed in 10 more.

Coach Schutz said his team is playing together as it has all season in racking up a 15-1 record in the shortened season.

“I like the way we’re sharing the basketball,” he said. “Everyone is doing their part.”

The Hornets were paced by Ostermeyer, who totaled 12 points and 9 rebounds to lead his team. Nathan Hockensten added 7 points and 6 boards.

Schutz is well aware of the mystique Westwood has established over the years.

“We’ll have to play defense because they (Patriots) are very physical. We also have to keep (Mark) Carlson from getting inside, he’s an excellent driver. It will be a tough game.”

The Jets will be without junior guard Isaiah Frahm, who suffered a foot fracture in practice.

LHS 12 8 4 7 — 31

JHS 17 18 29 12 — 72

L’ANSE (31): Laitila 5, Kissel 5, Allen 2, Ostermeyer 12, Hockenstein 7. FT: 1-5. Rebounds: 22 (Ostermeyer 9). Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None. 4-point FG: Ostermeyer 2, Laitila 1, Kissel 1.

JEFFERS (72): Schutz 10, Kunishige 13. Hocking 20, L. Frahm 17, L. Heinonen 3. Kinnunen 4, Kangas 2, Mattila 4. R. Heinonen 3. FT: 7-8. Rebounds: 36 (Hocking 13). Fouls: 7. Fouled out: None. 3-point FG: Frahm 5, Kunishige 3. Schutz 2, Hocking 2, L. Heinonen 1.

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