EagleHerald Sports Editor
MENOMINEE—After suffering two tough losses to end last week, the Menominee boys basketball team shook off another slow start with a 40-point second half to secure a 71-28 rout of Ishpeming on Tuesday.
“I’m proud of our guys for taking care of business in this game,” Menominee coach Sam Larson said. “We did a nice job of getting out on the break and being extremely unselfish to find the open man in transition.”
Ishpeming took a quick 5-2 lead to start the game as Menominee lost a shooter on pick-and-pop for a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game and trailed 8-4 shortly after as a Hematite player split a pair of free throws with 4:45 remaining in the first quarter.
The Maroons tied the game at eight on back-to-back baskets from Cooper Conway and took the lead as Brady Schultz secured a steal and passed it ahead to Brady Badker for an easy layup.
After another Ishpeming triple, Badker made two free throws, Conway split a pair and Aidan Bellisle finished the quarter off going 2-of-2 at the line as Menominee took a 15-11 lead into the second quarter.
Ishpeming scored the first basket of the second to cut the deficit to two, but Menominee rattled off nine straight after that capped off by Bellisle grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back up for a basket to go up 24-13.
The Hematites scored just one more basket in the second to stop the run, and Menominee finished the quarter with five points from Bellisle and a transition layup by Zach Starzynski to take a 31-15 lead into halftime.
After looking sluggish for much of the first half, Menominee came out in the third quarter ready to play as the intensity picked on defense which led to a number of easy baskets in transition for Bellisle and Badker.
“Aidan and Brady really took advantage of running hard in transition and attacking off the dribble,” Larson said. “Once again, I thought we started (the game) a little sluggish, but I was really happy to see the energy we brought in the third quarter. Our defensive intensity picked up and we got a couple easy buckets.”
Bellisle, who scored 13 in the first half, finished the game with 27 points to lead all scorers and Badker nearly gave the Maroons two 20-point scorers as he finished with 19.
Conway scored seven points, but did a lot of damage on the boards as he finished with 11 and was a big part of the reason why Menominee was able to get out in transition.
“Cooper did a nice job of putting himself in position to grab rebounds and that initiated our break opportunities,” Larson said.
Menominee (2-2 overall, 0-1 GNC) will now get ready for another Great Northern Conference matchup tonight as Gladstone heads to town, and while happy with the win against Ishpeming, Larson is aware there is still room for improvement on his squad.
“We still have a ton of work to do defensively, but we are happy with the win and will continue to push ourselves to be better,” he said. “As a group, we have high expectations for ourselves, and our coaching staff will keep pushing so that we can be at our best come playoffs.”
MENOMINEE (71)—Bellisle 27, Badker 19, Conway 7, Waara 6, Uecke 4, Laurin 2, Starzynski 2, Coduti 2, Schultz 2. FTs: 9-17.