Slow going still good for Copper Kings

PAINESDALE – After being throttled by Calumet early in the season, Jeffers High boys basketball coach Duane Snell didn’t want a repeat when the two teams met up again Tuesday night.

“We tried to run with them the first time and it didn’t turn out well,” Snell said after his team’s 32-22 loss to the Copper Kings. “We played the way we had to … to have a shot at winning.”

Calumet coach Mike Ojala said his team played well enough, but wasn’t surprised by the Jets’ slowdown.

“These are the kind of games we’re accustomed to playing against them in previous years,” Ojala noted. “They do a nice job of running their offense, and they’ll do it for two or three minutes. You have to focus a lot on each possession in a game like that.”

As it was, the smaller Jets moved to within 26-20 early in the fourth quarter on a three-pointer by Alex Outinen, his only points of the contest.

There was no more more scoring until 1:45 remained when Calumet’s Paul Torola dropped in one of two free throws for a 27-20 reading.

After Zach Nicholas hit a hoop for the Jets 24 seconds later to make 27-22, the Blue and Grey were able to convert five free tosses down the stretch.

The win moved the Copper Kings to 12-5 on the season, while the Jets dropped to 9-9.

Calumet managed an 8-7 lead after one quarter and made it 19-12 at the half. Five points by Jack Hyrkas in the second frame paced the eventual winners.

The pace slowed down even more in the third quarter, Calumet managing a 7-5 margin.

“We had some good looks at the basket in the third quarter,” Snell said. “We just didn’t make them.”

The high-scoring Torola was limited to a game-high 16 points by the Jets, but still managed to be a force.

“Paul (Torola) missed some open jump shots in the second half,” Ojala noted. “That’s probably the best thing a team can do, to make him shoot from 20 feet.”

Torola was followed in the scoring column by Hyrkas with 10 markers. Jake Pieti grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Kings in that department.

Brant Ryynanen was tops for the Green and White with nine points. Nicholas managed seven points and a team-best six rebounds.

Both teams will now finish the season and get ready for the upcoming districts.

Calumet will be at Lake Linden-Hubbell Friday night and finish with a road game against Houghton and a home game against Escanaba.

“Those are all tough games,” Ojala said. “They’re the kind of games that can help us at this point of the season.”

Jeffers hosts Ontonagon Friday.