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One could not have asked for a more exciting way to start the WestPAC basketball season as the Calumet Copper Kings defeated the Negaunee Miners, 63-60, in the last minute of the game Tuesday night at the Calumet Gym.
With the Miners leading 60-56 and time running down, the Copper Kings brought the ball up and got it to Eli McParlan. He launched a three-pointer from the right side of the court. While the shot missed, McParlan was fouled on the play, drawing three free throws.
He made the first two, but his third shot fell short, bouncing around the key before being recovered by Calumet. Again, the ball was kicked out to McParlan. He again launched a three-pointer, and this time it hit.
The junior had piled in five points and a put the Copper Kings ahead 61-60. They would add two more before the final buzzer sounded.
“That was a good one,” said Calumet coach Mike Ojala. “It was two evenly-matched teams and it was a group effort all across the court.”
McParlan led the Copper Kings scoring effort with 17 points, but none were bigger than those final five. Junior Trevor Torola followed with 13 points and the Ojala twins, Matt and Travis, both had 12.
Interestingly, Matt also had 12 assists on the night for his first double-double on the young season.
“It was good to see Matt finding guys open and getting the ball to them,” said Mike Ojala.
The Miners led after the first quarter 17-13. Calumet came back to take the lead at 31-28 at the half.
The Miners, however, returned from the locker room with a quicker step and a more controlled game plan. At one point in the third, they led by as many as seven.
However, a couple of times they were slow to recover down the court on defense and gave up easy points in the paint that could have been avoided with a quicker recovery.
“We’ve got to be able to close these games out,” said Negaunee coach Dan Waterman, who was clearly frustrated with his team’s finish. “We cannot give up 63 points and expect to win.”
Jason Waterman led the Miners with 27 points followed by Drew Lindbergh with 14.