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Battle of unbeatens: Copper Kings face Glen Lake in D3 quarterfinals

HOUGHTON LAKE — The Calumet Copper Kings girls basketball team is trying to do something they have not done since 2015, win a state title.

To do so, they will have to figure out how to do something no team has done this season, defeat the Maple City Glen Lake Lakers, a team that comes into today’s MHSAA Division 3 state quarterfinal with a 19-0 record. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.

The Copper Kings enter the game battle-tested, as they showed in a 65-55 victory in the Region 17 final over the always-tough St. Ignace Saints last week.

According to Calumet’s head coach Matt Laho, it was their toughest game of the season.

“The victory came from the same things we’ve done all season,” he said. “It’s been our pressure against the other team, our defense and trying to find ways to score on offense. The girls like the adrenaline of these big games. They are a tough group and want to win.”

In terms of offense, it certainly helps the Copper Kings to have Elli Djerf, the WestPAC Player of the Year, on their side. She is averaging 20 points per game. 

Her partner in crime is Marybeth Halonen who sinks 14 points per game and Alexis Strom with 10 points per game. Laho added that these three along with Jana Loukus are equally strong on defense. 

“They are all doing the little things to find ways to score,” said Laho. “They move the ball inside and can sink it from outside.”

Monday’s game against the Lakers will be another tough one for the Copper Kings. As Laho pointed out, someone will go home with their first loss of the season.

According to Laho, Glen Lake has some tall girls who are tough inside. As well, they like to press from the start and mix up their defenses. 

“I can’t be worried in big games like this,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to win the game or change what we need to do to win. That’s where my focus needs to be instead of not losing.”

Leading the way for the Lakers is Grace Bradford, who averages 16 points per game, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.2 steals. Maddie Bradford has also had a strong season, averaging 10.1 points and 4.4 rebounds a contest.

Another girl the Copper Kings will need to keep an eye on is Jessica Robins, while her offensive numbers are not as daunting at 7.9 points per game, she averages 4.8 rebounds per game.

The state semifinals and finals are Wednesday and Friday, respectively, at the Breslin Center in Lansing.

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