Copper Kings girls fall to Miners Tuesday

CALUMET — On a spring night in February, at the Calumet Gym, the Negaunee Miners girls basketball team controlled the game from first tip to final buzzer en route to their 57-44 triumph over the Calumet Copper Kings. Despite the travel time for the Miners, they never trailed in the contest, and immediately put the gym on notice that bus legs were not going to be a factor.

“I was happy with our effort,” said Negaunee coach Mike O’Donnell. “I thought we played hard, but I felt we didn’t play smart at times.”

The defense was the key for the Miners. The visitors held the Copper Kings to just 16 first-half points.

“We got after them defensively,” said O’Donnell. “I liked our press, and I thought our pressure was kind of the separation in the game and led to some turnovers in the full-court game and a couple of easy baskets. So, that helped us today; pressure was one of the big keys to our game.”

Like O’Donnell, Calumet coach Charlie Kemppainen felt the Miners’ pressure dictated the game.

“You know, we didn’t get a lot of shots because of the pressure,” said Kemppainen. “I thought they were able to speed us up at times, and that’s to their credit.”

Kemppainen was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“I thought the kids played hard,” he said. “They are an experienced, well-coached team, but I’m very pleased with how we played. Obviously, we don’t play to lose, but we made some nice improvements over the last few weeks.”

Ella Mason led the Miners with 14 points, Callie Rajala scored 10, and Gretel Johnson had nine.

Calumet’s leading scorer was Caitlyn Strom, who scored 19, and Millie Loukus added 11.

The game’s first points came off a Miners’ 3-pointer around the 5:30 mark. Calumet got on the board, but following the Copper Kings’ bucket, Negaunee reeled off 10 in a row to make it 13-2. The Miners managed four more points before the quarter ended, while Calumet only scored two.

Calumet started the second quarter down 17-4. Four minutes into the second, both squads added six to their total for a score of 23-10. Negaunee scored eight, and Calumet scored six, for a first-half Miners advantage of 31-16.

The Copper Kings came out hard in the third and outscored the Miners 7-6 over the first few minutes. Negaunee went on a small 7-2 run and extended their lead to 47-25. Calumet scored four to the Miners’ two, making it 49-29 heading into the fourth.

Calumet continued to fight, even down 20 with one quarter to play. The Copper Kings went on a 7-3 run in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too much for the home team to overcome.


Calumet will host Escanaba on Friday. Negaunee will play in Ishpeming on Friday.


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