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Jared Lawson knew that the Calumet Copper Kings were going to make a run at his Houghton High basketball team Thursday night.
“Even when we were ahead by 17 points in the third quarter, I knew the game wasn’t over,” Lawson said after his team’s 56-49 WestPAC win. “Calumet is too good of a team. That’s the nature of a rivalry game like this one.”
Calumet, trailing by a 49-32 margin late in the third period, went on a 14-0 run from that point on to make it a razor-thin lead at 49-46 with three minutes left.
“We were shooting and missing in the first half,” Calumet coach Mike Ojala said. “Their zone was really bothering us in the first half. But we started making some shots and creating some turnovers … and got back into it.”
The Copper Kings even had a chance at a tie when Matt Ojala lined up a three-pointer from the top of the circle. But the shot just rattled off and the home team had a temporary reprieve.
Junior forward Bradley Sirard of Houghton came back down and nailed a triple to make it 52-46, and that pretty much sealed the deal.
“That was huge shot by Brad (Sirard) right there,” Lawson said. “Calumet was coming on strong and we had to make a stand.”
Sirard canned four charity tosses in the waning moments to lock it up.
The Orange and Black grabbed a 14-12 lead after one quarter as Sam Keskimaki dropped in seven points.
The Houghton lead grew to 29-17 by halftime as Sirard totaled nine markers and Wes Hyslop nailed two treys.
“We did a good job on Houghton’s big scorers,” Ojala said. “But Keskimaki and Hyslop really played well …. they hurt us.”
Matt and Travis Ojala fueled the second half rally by the Copper Kings, combining for 21 points.
Sirard paced the Houghton offense with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Keskimaki tossed in 14, Hyslop had 13 points and seven rebounds, while George Butvilas netted 11 more besides playing a good floor game.
Calumet, 5-2 on the season, was led by Matt Ojala’s 16 points. Travis Ojala put in 13 more and Eli McParlan recorded seven points and 9 rebounds. Matt Ojala became the top scorer in Calumet history, surpassing the previous record set by Josh Cone (1,098).
Lawson said the late scare was a good lesson for his team.
“You see it all the time, a team gets a big lead and just starts to get nervous,” he said. “We did that and started turning the ball over.”
Houghton will be idle until a Jan. 3 test at Negaunee. Calumet meets L’Anse on the road the same day.
Calumet 13 4 18 14 – 49
Houghton 14 15 20 7 – 56
CALUMET — Bran. Antilla 6, M. Ojala 16, T. Ojala 13, McParlan 7, Torola 2, Bre. Antilla 5. FT: 0-0; Rebounds: 26 (McParlan 9); Fouls: 15; Fouled out: None; 3-point FG: M. Ojala 2, Bran. Antilla 2, T. Ojala 1, McParlan 1, Bre. Anttila 1.
HOUGHTON — Butvilas 11, Sirard 18, Keskimaki 14, Hyslop 13. FT: 13-15; Rebounds: 29 (Sirard 10); Fouls: 7; Fouled out: None; 3-point FG: Hyslop 3, Keskimaki 2, Sirard 1.