Hornets back from break, beat Kings

CALUMET – Before Thursday’s WestPAC game, both L’Anse and Calumet had gone nearly two weeks since competitive action.

It showed least on the Purple Hornets and that may have been a factor in their 49-30 win.

“We didn’t have great flow, but our effort was good,” L’Anse coach Mike Ostermeyer said.

The Hornets (3-2, 2-1 WestPAC) led wire-to-wire, taking advantage of a Calumet squad that missed its first eight field-goal attempts and finished a frigid 11-of-48 (23 percent) from the field and 0-for-13 from three-point range.

“It just seemed like it was one of those nights where you start missing some shots at point-blank range and it kind of snowballs on you a little bit,” Calumet coach Mike Ojala said.

“A lot of times you come off a little break like this and it’s the offensive end that suffers. I hope that was the case.”

Despite Calumet’s offensive drought, its slow-tempo game ensured it only trailed 5-0 when Paul Torola got them on the board with the first two of his team-high 17 points 4:25 into the first quarter.

The Kings (3-2, 1-1 WestPAC) warmed up in the second quarter, scoring 14 points, but the Purple Hornets kept themselves narrowly ahead with six points from Jimmy Veker and four from Keith Denomie.

In the third quarter, point guard Ryan LaBerge led L’Anse out of danger, pumping in seven of his team’s 12 points. He canned a three with 3:41 left in the quarter to make the Hornets’ lead 10.

On the other end, L’Anse kept Torola off the board in the third, then neutralized Calumet’s other players in the fourth.

“We wanted to put pressure on Torola. We know he’s their main scorer. I thought our team defense on him was good. We helped early on him and we double-teamed when he got in the post,” Ostermeyer said.

LaBerge hit his second three of the game with 6:08 to play to make it 42-24 and give L’Anse more than enough cushion to cruise into the finish.

“In that first half and even in the third quarter, we had some pretty makeable looks that we got through our offensive sets and we didn’t knock them down. Those are certainly shots we need to shoot,” Ojala said.

Subtract Torola’s 6-for-20 from Calumet’s half of the box score and the rest of the Kings combined for a success rate in the teens.

“We’re not a team that’s got four or five kids on the court that are gonna knock down threes. Part of our offense has to be offensive boards and being aggressive in the paint. We did a nice job of that in the first half but we didn’t convert anything,” Ojala said.

The Copper Kings hit the road for their next two, starting Monday in Ontonagon. L’Anse is right back at it tonight, hosting Ishpeming in a non-league game.