Copper King girls get tough with Panthers

CALUMET – The Calumet girls’ basketball team was not messing around Monday night in a non-conference matchup with Chassell. The Copper Kings enjoyed a size advantage at nearly every position and they were intent on using it.

Calumet pounded the ball inside with both post-ups and penetration nearly every possession to draw 19 free-throw attempts and eventually run away with a 50-33 victory.

Chassell gamely hung on for a 9-6 first quarter lead and cut the deficit to as little as four points in the third quarter but couldn’t withstand the Kings’ constant attacks on the rim.

“Our advantage is to pound the ball into the block,” Calumet coach Don Hill said. “And we were able to do that with some success. I don’t think we ever shot the ball that well – we went 7-for-35 in the first half – but we still managed 50 points. So I am happy with our production when it seemed like we couldn’t buy a basket sometimes.”

Coming off the bench as the seniors were honored for Parents Night, it was sophomore guard Lexie Rowe (14 points) who set the tone.

The athletic slasher put up seven points in the second quarter to give Calumet some separation and started the third frame with an old-fashioned three-point play, her second of the night.

The Panthers simply did not have anyone who could match Rowe’s burst and physicality.

“She is so strong,” Hill said. “People just bounce off her sometimes and she really just gets to the hole. That is her game. if you put a guard on her, she can post you up, but if you put somebody big on her she can go around them with her speed. She is definitely a matchup problem for anybody.”

“I feel we actually did a pretty good job on defense for what we have,” Chassell coach Brandi Hainault added. “(Rowe) is just so quick and she takes it hard to the basket. It is either going to go in or she is going to get fouled.”

The rest of the team followed Rowe’s lead.

Seven different players finished with five or more points for Calumet – with just two total threes made – as the team successfully slashed-and-kicked in the lane.

An eight-point run to open the fourth quarter shut the door for good on any Chassell comeback attempts.

“We have been rolling nine girls all year and they have bonded like a family,” Hill said. “They are willing to share the ball, they really are. They are looking at the scoreboard more than the scoresheet.”

The Panthers kept themselves in the game until the final period thanks to Kirsten Daavettila’s 12 points and Jamie Dompier’s 10.

Considering Dompier averages 16 a game, however, and has already put together three 20-plus games this season, Hill considered it a success to hold the Chassell senior to 10 points.

“I said goodbye to her. I told her I was going to go to graduation to make sure she is leaving,” Hill said with a smile. “She is just an incredible athlete and is just the leader out there for a young team.”

For her part, Hainault considers the loss a positive lesson for the postseason play soon to come.

“I am so proud of how we played and how we represented ourselves,” Hainault said. “I think we showed our character with how we competed. It will definitely help us prepare for the rest of the season.”