IRON RIVER—It was the battle of unbeaten teams March 29 at West Iron County High School.
Calumet stayed unbeaten, using quickness on both ends of the floor to cruise past Menominee 57-41 in a MHSAA Division 3 Region 17 semifinal.
In the final U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association poll of the season, Menominee (13-1) was the unanimous No. 1 ranked team, while Calumet was ranked No. 3.
Calumet got off to a fast start, using a full-court press that gave Menominee trouble right from the get-go and throughout the duration of the game. Within the first 2:24 of the contest, the Copper Kings led 7-2, going on to take a 14-4 lead at the end of the first stanza.
“We were able to watch (Calumet) on film a couple of times,” said Menominee head coach Lucas Chouinard. “But when you see things live opposed to on film, it’s way different. They’re much faster than I expected and very scrappy.”
Junior Marybeth Halonen netted seven of her team-high 19 points for Calumet in the first quarter, and went on to have 12 points at the intermission. As a team, Calumet shot very consistent throughout the majority of the game.
“That’s how it’s been all season for us,” said Calumet head coach Matt Laho. “On any given night, we could have four girls score in double figures. It’s a nice thing to have, when we can rely on a bunch of different girls to score.”
Calumet’s press, with guards Elli Djerf, who chipped in 10 points in the contest, and Jana Loukus was incredibly disruptive to Menominee’s offensive flow. So much so in the early going of the basketball game, that the Maroons were never able to recover from the 16-point halftime lead that Calumet had.
“When we got behind like we did in the first quarter, we were getting good shots, but we weren’t making them,” Chouinard said. “Then we weren’t doing a good enough job on defense, in containing them.”
Defensively, the Maroons did do a good job of limiting Djerf to 10 points, as she usually scores around the 20-point range.
Menominee used a 3-4 court press of their own in the second quarter, and at times in the second half, but Calumet broke it without much trouble.
Both teams were a bit slow to get anything going offensively in the first few minutes of the third quarter. With the score 35-14 with 4:53 remaining in the third, Calumet called a time out.
For the remainder of the quarter, Menominee inched back into the game, with a 13-6 scoring run, to make the score 41-30, with only the final quarter left to play.
The Maroons began hitting shots from the outside, with Emma Anderson, who scored a game high 22 points, and point guard Josie Hofer each draining three treys at different points of the final half.
“Menominee is a good team, we knew that they’d make a run at our lead at some point,” Laho said. “So to counter that, we had to match their scores with scores of our own and try to keep things even.”
Anderson, a Wayne State University recruit and 2020 U.P. Miss Basketball, hit all three of her 3-pointers in the third quarter, while all of Hofer’s came in the Maroons’ comeback attempt in the fourth quarter.
“We also know going in, that Anderson was probably going to score the majority of their points. We wanted to hold her under 15, but she surpassed that due to some correctable things we did on defense in the second half,” Laho said.
However, as the fourth quarter wore on, Djerf and Loukus continued to press the Maroons players as they were bringing the ball up the floor. The relentlessness of the Copper Kings defense, which had made a substantial difference throughout the contest, stifled Menominee’s comeback attempt for the win.
Menominee’s season ends with a 13-1 record, and a second consecutive Great Northern Conference championship.
MENOMINEE (41)—Hofer 9, Barrette 2, Wellner 4, Nerat 2, Nolde 2, Anderson 22. FT: 1-4.
CALUMET (57)—Loukus 2, Djerf 10, Halonen 19, Giachino 8, Strom 9, Torola 9. FT: 12-23.