Remarkable rally: Bulldog girls overturn 13-point deficit in 4th quarter, stun Kings

HANCOCK – The result of the Hancock-Calumet game was always going to stand out by virtue of it being the only girls’ basketball contest actually played in the U.P. Tuesday.

The Bulldogs made it memorable for several more reasons.

Hancock, with a pair of 10-0 runs in the fourth quarter, overcame a 13-point deficit with five minutes to play and upset the U.P.’s No. 5-ranked team 42-38.

“The first turnover kind of led to the next two, we got one turnover, got a little momentum and then we did what we needed to do,” Hancock coach Jack Johnson said.

The result puts Hancock and Calumet on even footing in the WestPAC race at 2-2, with L’Anse having won its only league game thus far and Houghton at 4-1.

Johnson said a 53-42 loss to the Gremlins last week provided a morale boost.

“Even though we didn’t shoot well and we didn’t win, that was a big confidence game for us. Even from that game, I think we were able build upon the fact that we can rely on defense and we can play with anybody,” he said.

Nobody shot well in the early going, as Calumet held a 15-12 advantage at the break despite going 5-for-33 from the field against the Bulldogs’ zone defense (Hancock was 5-for-23).

The offenses thawed out some as the second half went on and when Calumet scored four times in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, four points apiece from Lexie Rowe and Nikki Polakova, to gain a double-digit lead, it appeared as if the Copper Kings had found a way out of trouble.

Rowe converted one more time on a drive at the with approximately five minutes remaining for a 35-22 lead.

Hancock got its first field goal of the quarter on the other end from freshman Maija Sebbas, then threes from Molly Berg and Sebbas to make it 35-32 with 2:20 left.

However, Calumet doubled its cushion when Ellen Twardzik made the first of two free throws, then missed the second. Terilynne Budreau beat her opponent to the offensive rebound and put it back up for a six-point lead with two minutes to go.

That’s where Hancock made a run to remember.

Taylor Pertile scored on a drive, Berg stole the ball in the backcourt and scored, then Sebbas executed a steal at center court and took the ball in for the hoop and the harm, turning a six-point hole into a one-point lead in a matter of 30 seconds.

“Our defense picked it up and we were playing tough and it created offense opportunities,” said Berg, who along with Sebbas had a game-high 11 points.

“Molly’s got a lot of heart. She’s a tough player. She knows what she does well. She’s good going to the basket, she’s great on defense and we’ve been really working with her and she’s been working hard just executing the things she does well and I tell you what, I wouldn’t want to line up against Molly Berg,” Johnson said.

Calumet had several chances to get the lead back in the last minute. A pass from the backcourt ended up in the Hancock bench. After 6-footer Janie Torola blocked the Hancock inbounds attempt with her feet, the Kings set up and couldn’t connect on a post entry pass to Rowe. After Quincy Lorenzetti made a pair at the line to make it a three-point game with 12.9 seconds left, Calumet’s last chance short-circuited when Tristan Baranowski dribbled the ball off her toe and out of bounds in the backcourt.

“A 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, that’s a no-brainer. You have to take care of the ball well enough for them to have to come foul us and not give it away time after time,” Calumet coach Don Hill said.

The Kings had 15 second-half turnovers and made only one of 18 three-point shots for the game.

Ellen Twardzik also scored 11 points and Rowe had 10 for Calumet (8-2 overall), whose Thursday home game with L’Anse went from important to imperative as far as the WestPAC is concerned.

“We’re going to find out how much heart we have. We need to respond and we need to respond in a positive way,” Hill said.

Hancock (8-3 overall) has two more home games this week, starting with Thursday against Republic-Michigamme. R-M has no JV team, so the varsity game will start at 5:45 p.m.