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Starting the season right: Jets’ girls take off with a win

Jeffers’ Makayla Helminen looks to pass as Watersmeet’s Waaseyaa Hawkins puts pressure on her during a game Monday in Painesdale. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)

PAINESDALE — The Jeffers Jets girls’ basketball team had a very smooth flight to open the 2023-24 season at home. They downed the Watersmeet Nimrods, 69-19, with a just a little turbulence here and there.

“Its to be expected that we make some silly mistakes on the first game,” said Jets coach Chad Larson. “However, I am happy with the win to get the season going.”

This game was very much a lopsided one from the start. Watersmeet has more eight graders on their varsity roster than juniors. There are no seniors, just one junior, three sophomores, one freshman and three eighth graders.

Meanwhile, the Jets starting five are all juniors and seniors. However, to the Nimrod girls’ credit, they gave a valiant fight until the end.

“We are a program in transition,” said Nimrods coach Rich Pallin. “The girls that are here want to play and want to get better, and that’s the important part.”

The Jets opened the game with back-to-back triples off the fingertips of Montanna Heinonen and then Carmyn Heltunen to make it 6-0. That morphed into a 22-4 first quarter score.

The second quarter was much the same as the Jets’ defense forced a lot of lot of turnovers.

“Our strong defense was a plus for us tonight,” added Larson. “We shut them and were able to generate some offense off of their turnovers. It is something we want to get better at this year.”

The second quarter was the Nimrods’ best as they scored seven points, but the Jets scored 22 to take a 36-11 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Up by 40 in the third at 43-11, the Jets evoked the running clock to finish the game.

The Jets had three girls in double digits on the night. Celia Randell led the scoring with 18 points. Sara Johnson and Montanna Heinonen both poured in 11.

“Another plus in a game like this is that everyone got some minutes playing,” said Larson. “That is a great way to start the season as a team as we are going to need everyone to contribute this season.”

UP NEXT

After their first away game at Baraga on Tuesday of this week, the Jets will face the L’Anse Purple Hornets back at home on Monday. Tip off is set for 7:15 p.m.

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