Copper Kings out pace Gladiators, 51-23

Ontonagon’s Carson Uotila (20) and Calumet’s Alan Bjorn (4) battle for a rebound Tuesday at the Calumet Gym. In on the play as well is Ontonagon’s Adam Graff (42). (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

CALUMET — There are nights on the high school basketball court when one team “has it” and makes their shots, and the other team doesn’t. On Tuesday in Calumet, the Copper Kings (5-6) boys basketball team “had it,” while the Ontonagon Gladiators (6-8) didn’t as they succumbed to a 51-23 defeat.

Gladiators coach Brittany Turin-Jilbert summed it up best.

“Offense was a struggle for us,” she said, “and it seemed to snowball from missed shots to frustrations that led to turnovers and the wheels of the bus just came off.”

Despite having just scored one point in the second quarter, the Gladiators were only down by 11 points at 21-10 at half time. According to Turin-Jilbert, that it is a familiar spot for her boys.

“We are a second-half team,” she said. “It is not uncommon for us to be down after the first quarter, and then make somewhat of a comeback in the second, only to play our best basketball in the last two quarters. But, that did not happen tonight. We just could not make our shots.”

On the other bench, Calumet coach Frank Bonacorsi credited strong defense by his squad as the key to victory.

“We shut them down,” he said. “We did a great job hustling and kept that up for all four quarters. It is something that we’ve been working on. So it was good to see.”

Calumet’s strong defense was not just a zone strategy at one end of the court, but rather an in-your-face battle plan all night.

“We put the pressure on tight and up front, and it caused a lot of turnovers which we converted to baskets,” said Bonacorsi. “As well, I was pleased with our rebounding. We made them work for it every step of the way.”

Brayden Nelson and Tyler Black led the scoring for the Copper Kings with 12 points each.

“Not only did they lead in points, but they moved the ball well and set the tone tonight for us on defense,” Bonacorsi said.

Abi Pestka led the scoring for the Gladiators with nine points.

As the basketball season enters it’s final month, both coaches say there is still work to be done.

“We need to work on shooting,” said a frustrated Turin-Jilbert.

For Calumet, it’s putting together a complete game.

“Our execution on both sides of the court is really starting to come together,” said Bonacorsi. “We just need to keep that up in the home stretch.”

Up next

The Copper Kings will travel to Chassell Thursday to face the Panthers. Ontonagon will be at home on Friday to face Bessemer.


ONT 9 1 7 6 – 23

CAL 12 9 13 17 – 51

ONT – Buzzo 2, Nelson 3, Uotila 2, Pestka 9, Laingren 5, Clinesmith 2.

CAL – Tarvis 4, Bjorn 7, Black 12, Nelson 12, Hodges 2, Ruonavaara 4, Brooks 8, Kilpela 2.


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