Copper Kings put away Bulldogs

HOUGHTON – Even when they weren’t at their best Monday, the Calumet Copper Kings could rely on certain structural advantages in their Class C district first-round game.

The much-bigger Kings outrebounded Hancock by a 2-to-1 margin and ushered the Bulldogs out of the tournament 58-32.

“We had a sizable advantage there and we should. They’re a small team and a young team and luckily, we were able to rebound well for the most part. If they would have knocked down shots it would have been a different story because they had good looks,” Calumet coach Don Hill said.

Hill wasn’t happy with Calumet’s performance, as his team committed an abnormally high number of turnovers and made mistakes in defensive rotations. However, Hancock had too many one-shot possessions to keep the pace, while on the offensive glass, the simple putback kept Calumet’s offense running if in a low gear.

“They finished. That’s the bottom line. When we gave Calumet an open look, they finished. When we had an open look, we just couldn’t knock it down,” Hancock coach Jack Johnson said.

Calumet won the WestPAC meetings between the two by scores of 56-24 and 71-32 and things tended that way over the first six minutes. Lexie Rowe scored seven points, Kristy Lasanen added a pair of buckets and Terra Erkkila kicked in a three as the Copper Kings led 14-4, with only a Kirsten Berg triple and Molly Berg free throw in reply.

Lasanen made triples on the first two possessions of the second quarter for a 20-6 lead but from there Calumet’s offense sputtered. Kirsten Berg hit two more triples and the Bulldogs outscored the Kings 11-8 over the next 7 1/2 minutes, going to half down 11.

Taylor Mattson scored on the first possession of the second half to put Hancock back into single digits, but Rowe and Lasanen responded immediately on the other end with baskets, starting a 9-0 run to put the Bulldogs’ backs against the wall. Consecutive transition layups from Terilynne Budreau and Erkkila started the fourth, pushed the lead to 19 and sealed Hancock’s fate.

Hancock’s brightest night came from Kirsten Berg, who knocked down four triples for a team-high 14 points, equaling her season high in her final varsity appearance.

“She understood the situation. She’s a senior playing in her last district and she kind of stepped up to the moment,” Johnson said.

In the end, 10-of-45 field-goal shooting precluded Hancock from making its run.

“We shot 22 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line. It’s tough to beat a good team shooting those numbers.”

The Bulldogs conclude their season 6-15.

Lasanen’s 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with three treys led all scorers. Rowe added 16. Hill will be looking for a better performance Wednesday when the Kings (16-4) play L’Anse in the first of two district semifinals.

“In the fourth quarter, I think we played a little more disciplined, we made our free throws at the end to seal it up, I was happy with that. Other than that, we didn’t play a very good basketball game for this time of year,” he said.