Hematites’ fast start puts end to Copper Kings, 57-38

CALUMET — From the tip to the final buzzer, the Ishpeming Hematites dictated the tempo and intensity of the game on the CLK hardwood Tuesday.

The Calumet Copper Kings matched the Hematite’s pace for most of the game. However, their admirable attempt to run down the visiting Hematites came up short. Ishpeming immediately set the tone with a fierce full-court press that led to a 6-0 lead 56 seconds into the opening quarter. After the fast start, the Hematites never surrendered the lead over the 32 minutes, beating the Kings, 57-38.

“I thought we played well in portions of the game, but we really had a great start,” said Ishpeming head coach Christopher Magnuson. “I thought we finished well, too, but I thought in between we kind of fell into their game, where they’re very methodical and very disciplined offensively,” Magnuson added. “We were not offensively disciplined in our shot selection, and we had a lot of turnovers in the middle of the game.”

Despite the loss, Calumet head coach Frank Bonacorsi stayed positive about his team.

“Our effort was phenomenal,” Bonacorsi said. “We missed some buckets, but given a second and third chance opportunity, they continued to play with intensity; they never stopped. When we made it a half-court game, our kids were phenomenal. Their effort was ridiculous. I’m super proud of them.”

The Hematites had a plan for the start of the game, which was extreme pressure.

“The plan coming into the game was to pressure early,” explained Magnuson. We want to set the tone right away, and we relied on our press a little bit, and it got us going and out to a lead that we never lost.”

Bonacorsi and the Kings felt the early press and intensity caught them off guard a bit.

“They were running a high diamond and one, and we were expecting it to sort out in-game, but we had to call the timeout early,” said Bonacorsi. “We got settled back in and refocused, and then they started to execute. We have to do a better job of being ready and having that intensity right from the get-go.”

Calumet kept themselves within reach of the high-flying Ishpeming squad for three quarters, but for a long stretch in the fourth, the Kings scored just two points, while the Hematites put 11 on the board.

“I think our energy just picked up in the fourth quarter, the intensity and the energy picked up, and that’s why we finished the game very strong,” said Magnuson. “I think we played well defensively. Calumet had long possessions and credit to our kids; they defended hard the whole possession, which was huge for us.”

Bonacorsi explained that the players need to rise to the challenge in the big fourth-quarter moments.

“Ishpeming’s intensity on defense was great in the fourth,” Bonacorsi said. “We also have to take ownership and want it in those situations. Toward the end, I called a timeout to challenge the group, and I said we need to execute when the intensity is up.”

Hunter Smith led the Hematites with 13 points; Caden Luoma added 12, Parker Gauthier had nine and Hayden Hares chipped in with eight.

Micah Pieti scored 10 points for Calumet, Gavin Sturos scored nine and Preston Hodges scored eight.

The Hematites had 12 points by the time the Kings scored their first bucket. Over the next few minutes, Calumet outscored Ishpeming 6-4, but the deficit was still significant, 16-8. The quarter ended with the visitors ahead 20-10.

The home team went on a 7-4 run through the first few minutes of the second. The Hematites got their lead back to 10 following a 4-1 stretch in the middle of the frame. In the weaning moments of the half, the score was 28-18. Each team added three to the tally before the break; Ishpeming hit the dressing room up 31-21.

The Kings were chipping away, but Ishpeming continued to make buckets and kill the Calumet momentum. After back-and-forth scoring, the Hematites managed to keep their advantage at 10, 35-25 four minutes into the second half. Ishpeming pushed their lead to 13, but Calumet had a push, and they closed the gap back to 10. The third came to a close, but not before the Kings hit a shot to bring their total to 31 and their deficit to eight, 39-31.

The Hematites had a wall for defense in the fourth, holding the Kings to two points for the majority of the quarter. During the Calumet dry spell, Ishpeming went up 52-33 and put the game out of reach. Both squads scored a couple more buckets for a 57-38 final score.


Calumet hosts Lake Linden-Hubbell tonight at 7:15.

Ishpeming hosts Ironwood tonight at 6:30.


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