Kings boys stoned by Ironwood
CALUMET – Calumet’s fans wanted to “Paint It Black” for their Class C district final against Ironwood but found “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and left with “Sympathy For the Devil(s).”
The Copper Kings outscored the Red Devils 16-9 in the first quarter, but Ironwood rolled to a 43-10 margin the rest of the way, leaving with the district title, “Satisfaction” and a 52-26 victory.
“I thought we did what we needed to do defensively we talked about being able to keep them in the 40s. I thought if we could do that, we’d have a chance to win. I never imagined we’d be stuck at 26 and have the struggles that we did in two straight district nights. I just didn’t see that happening,” Calumet coach Mike Ojala said.
Ironwood (19-3) and star senior Adam Mackey, have suffered their share of nightmares at the district level since beating Calumet for the title on their home floor in 2011.
In 2012, Mackey was 2-for-15 from the field in the first half as Ironwood couldn’t rally from 21 down to beat Hancock in a semifinal. In 2013, Mackey broke his foot late in a semifinal win against L’Anse and could not play in the championship game, which the Red Devils lost to Houghton.
Mackey played Wednesday with an undershirt that read ‘Unfinished Business.’ Now the next transaction for the Red Devils (19-3) is a regional semifinal against Norway Monday night in Marquette.
“That was a tough feeling. It feels great. But we’re not done yet, we’re far from done,” he said.
After eight minutes, it looked like the Red Devils might be undergoing another district nightmare. Calumet, after making just one field goal in the fourth
quarter and overtime of the semifinal against Hancock, went 7-for-12 from the field in the first quarter. Josh O’Dell banked in a three with 59 seconds left for a 16-7 lead and the Kings went to the bench up 16-9.
“We had a very poor start both offensively and defensively. Calumet was getting easy buckets off screens. We weren’t hedging the cutters coming through and they got the ball on the block and scored some easy baskets in the first quarter,” Ironwood coach Pete Lewinski said.
Jake DiGiorgio made a pair of free throws late in the first quarter, then scored Ironwood’s next six points in the second. Calumet’s offense completely dried up, and DiGiorgio sent the Red Devils to the locker room up 23-16 by knocking down an 18-foot jumper on the run at the horn.
“Part of that was the turnovers, part of that was them amping up their defensive pressure a little bit. The frustrating part, it was just them playing a halfcourt man-to-man, which is something that usually doesn’t bother us that much,” Ojala said.
After the scoreless second quarter, Jake Pieti scored inside on Calumet’s first possession of the second half, but that would be it from the field for another eight minutes.
On the other end, Ironwood finished the job from the outside, with Denver Sharrow hitting three triples and Rowe a fourth. It was a 42-20 game after three quarters, finally quieting a raucous Calumet student section dressed in all black for the occasion.
“They have a lot of talented kids that know how to play and even when you take away their initial stuff they’re trying to get out of their offense, they have kids that can just make plays,” Ojala said.
Ironwood’s balanced offense featured four scorers in double figures, led by Sharrow’s 13. Mackey had 12 and both Rowe and DiGiorgio 10.
For Calumet, Paul Torola had a team-best 10 points as the Kings went 4-for-33 after the hot first quarter. The Kings, who finish the season 14-8, got all but four of their points from their six-man senior class.
“We’ve got six seniors on this team and I never had to spend an ounce of energy motivating these guys in any practice and certainly didn’t have to motivate them to play hard in a game. If you watched our team play this year, I don’t think too many people left the gym saying we didn’t play hard,” Ojala said.