Gremlins run away from West Iron

HOUGHTON – Their exams behind them, the Houghton girls ran off their nervous energy by running the floor and running away from West Iron County 64-42 in WestPAC play Friday.

“I thought we ran the floor. We’d still like to see our ‘1’ (point guard) catch an inbounds pass and accelerate even more and the wings got out wide, Elisa (Jurmu) got down the floor and I thought that created some good opportunities for us,” Houghton coach Julie Filpus said.

The Gremlins (10-1, 3-1 WestPAC) applied consistent pressure, starting on a 10-2 run and never trailing.

Alexa Johnson hit a pair of first-quarter threes and pumped in 11 points off the bench, all in the first half.

“Her 11 in the first half gave us a big boost, and again, we can look at our stat sheet and say we had very good balance tonight,” Filpus said.

It wasn’t quite as good balance as Tuesday, when the Gremlins came within a point of putting all five starters in double figures, but they did have three at 10 or above, including a team-high 18 from Elisa Jurmu and 10 more from Kelsie Richards.

“What opened things up for us is hitting some threes. Between that and attacking the rim aggressively, I think that helped propel us above 60,” Filpus said.

West Iron got within two on the first possession of the second quarter, but the Gremlins came right back down the floor and hit Natalie Datto for a triple within seconds. That shot started a 17-4 run that essentially put the game away. Houghton got points from five players in the spurt, while all West Iron had to show for the stretch was two pairs of free throws from Emilie Christenen.

Christensen, who posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, was a bright spot for coach Mike Dallavalle’s Wykons. Despite the outcome, Dallavalle said it felt a little more competitive than the teams’ first meeting, a 57-25 Houghton win in Iron River Dec. 14.

“I did not feel like this was a 22-point loss,” Dallavalle said. “We didn’t always have a good end result, but at least we went to the rim.”

One bright spot was rebounding, where West Iron had a narrow advantage.

“That’s all well and good, but we need to finish. If we get offensive rebounds we need to get to the free-throw line or finish down low,” Dallavalle said.

West Iron’s main backcourt threat, Kylee Erickson, drew a tough assignment in 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Sydney Dillinger. Erickson had just two triples but did post a game-best 19 points.

“By putting Dillinger on Erickson, just with the height and wingspan, we thought it disrupted her. She did have a three that was probably seven feet behind the arc. I guess we probably have to respect that. I think she played a pretty good game offensively,” Filpus said.

West Iron made up a little ground early in the third, getting back to within eight before Houghton went on another run, ballooning the lead to an insurmountable 19.

“What opened things up for us is hitting some threes. Between that and attacking the rim aggressively, I think that helped propel us above 60 (points),” Filpus said.

The Gremlins play at Hancock Monday night.