Moving out: Jets keep flying high with win over Ironwood, 62-60

Jeffers’ coach John Schutz gives some instructions to Levi Frahm in the second quarter of a Division 4 Region 25 semifinal game against Ironwood on Monday at the Houghton Gym. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — It’s been said that the road to the MHSAA Final Four only gets tougher as a team moves closer and closer towards the Breslin Center in East Lansing each March. That certainly was the case for the Jeffers Jets (24-1) on Monday night, even though they were very close to home – just up the road, in fact, at the Houghton High School Gym.

They faced their Copper Mountain Conference rivals, a very confident Ironwood Red Devils (24-4) team, in MHSAA Division 4 Region 25 semifinal action. The Jets beat them, 62-60, before a packed house.

While the final lead was just two points, Jeffers was in control from the start. They led 30-20 at half, and by as many at 15 in the third.

The Jets were up 47-36 to start the fourth, but the Red Devils were not giving up. They went on a 25-15 run in the final eight minutes, but could not catch the Jets. The closest they got was two points in the final minute.

“That was a heck of a game, I am not going to lie,” said Jets coach John Schutz, “a lot closer than I wanted it to be.”

He noted that his all-star player, Levi Frahm, went out with an injured thumb towards the end of the third, and that was when the Red Devils poured it on.

“You could tell they (Ironwood) stepped up and shot the ball much better in the fourth,” said Schutz. “They didn’t quit.”

One of the reasons that the Jets are where they are at this time of year is because of their bench, which feels like it is full of players who could start anywhere else in the Copper Country. Schutz and his squad are 10 deep, but it is not just five starters and a handful of substitute players.

“We are not a team of one,” said Schutz. “Everybody contributes.”

While Frahm averaged more than 20 points per game this season, he had just nine in this postseason game. Stepping in to fill the gap was junior Matthew Schutz. He led the scoring with 23 points. Ashton Kunishige sunk 15.

“The game ball goes to Matthew,” said his coach (and dad). “He played well. He had a couple of big rebounds and a couple of key three pointers that set the tone.”

On the other bench, Ironwood coach Adam Mackey acknowledged as much.

“For them (Jeffers), there is not one weak player out there,” he said. “They play such great defense, and they pressure us so well.”

His frustration was that his boys dug a deep hole in the first quarter that they then had to fight to get out of.

“That shouldn’t have happened,” Mackey said. “I give Jeffers credit. They kept their composure at the end and made the shots early on when they need to be needed. It was too much for us at the end; we were out of gas.”

The Red Devils had three players in double figures. Kurt Bissell had 11. Aiden Boyd poured in 12, and Axton Ruotsala led with 19.

Up next

The Jets head to Negaunee Wednesday to face the Stephenson Eagles in the regional final. The Eagles advanced by defeating the Watersmeet Nimrods on Monday, 50-39, to advance. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.


IRO 11 9 16 24 – 60

JHS 16 14 17 15 – 62

IRO – Bissell 11, Ruotsala 19, Miskovich 2, Dabb 8, Boyd 12, Betlewski 8.

JHS – Frahm 9, Stevens 7, Schutz 23, Larson 8, Kunishige 15.


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