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6 months ago @ 8:53AM

Copper Kings Top L'Anse

One of Calumet girls’ basketball head coach Matt Lahos’ biggest laments this year has been losing games that could have been won had his girls given what he felt was that extra effort in the game’s closing minutes. On Thursday, Christmas came early for the first-year varsity coach as his team came from behind in the fourth quarter and defeated the L’anse Purple Hornets, 57-48, at the Calumet Gym.

“I told the girls at halftime that we know what we need to do, we just need to do it,” he said. “We needed to execute better and we did. Obviously I am happy with that.”

The win puts the Copper Kings at 3-3 on the season.

It was either team’s game well into the fourth as neither was winning by more than five or six points for much of the game.

After winning the opening tip, Calumet’s Marybeth Halonen put the Copper Kings on the board first with a three-pointer. L’Anse’s Kailyn Voskuhl countered with two. The Purple Hornets first six points were in the paint as the two teams felt each other out.

With 2:50 remaining in the first quarter, the score was tied at eight. However, L’Anse would pull ahead with their scrappy defense and led after the first 16-11.

Both teams played a very physical second quarter and turned the ball over too many times with poor passing and found themselves moving faster than they were ready to, leading to what coaches would refer to as “sloppy play.”

The Copper Kings were able to tie it at 23 apiece with a few minutes left in the half thanks to a free throw by Vera Peterson.

However, the tie was short lived as the Purple Hornets countered with some quick turn-around layups and jumpers by their two scoring leaders, Maija Rice and Voskuhl, who, along with Brianna Heinz, led with 10 points on the night. At half time, the Purple Hornets led 27-25.

“I told the girls that it’s nice to be up by two, but we’ve only played 16 minutes of basketball,” said L’Anse coach Scott Lloyd. “We’ve got a ways to go.”

His girls got the message as the tightened their defense and chose their shots better in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Thanks to a couple of quick turnarounds, the Purple Hornets notched a six-point lead, 37-31, halfway through the third. They also displayed smarter passing and worked the ball better around the horn. It seemed like an offensive momentum was going to carry them to victory as they led, 41-36, after 24 minutes of play.

However, the Copper Kings still had a spark in their step. They tied it at 42 and went ahead with 5:37 remaining thanks to a Halonen shot in the paint. It only got better as she and sophomore guard Elli Djerf found hot hands and poured in a few more deuces down low. Freshman Jana Loukus made it 51-46 with her only score of the night — a three-pointer from the far corner. The momentum of the game had changed in Calumet’s favor with just minutes remaining in the contest.

To make matters worse for the Purple Hornets, their offensive leader, Rice, fouled out.

“While I don’t want to blame our loss on the refs, Maija couldn’t get a break tonight,” said a frustrated Lloyd. “She’s at the heart of our offense and the other girls look to her for leadership.”

The game had more than 35 total fouls. The Purple Hornets had 21 team fouls which sent the Copper Kings to the foul line a lot and eventually to victory. Calumet was 13-for-28 (46.4 percent) from the free throw line. Djerf alone was 8-for-11 from the line. She went on to lead the Copper Kings with 18 points on the night. Halonen followed with 15.

On the other hand, the Purple Hornets were just 8-for-21 (38 percent) from the free throw line. Such sharp shooting on Calumet’s part only widened the gap in the last few minutes and ended any hope of a comeback for the Purple Hornets.

“Free throws were our demise in that last quarter,” said Lloyd.

On the other bench, Laho was obviously pleased with his girls performance not only at the charity stripe but in particular in how they ended the game.

“In the fourth, we were aggressive and wanted to win finally,” he said. “We executed well and attacked their zone and push the ball through the scoring lanes.”

L’Anse 16 11 14 7 – 48

Calumet 11 14 11 21 – 57

LHS: Keinz 10, Mattson 6, Martinez 2, M. Rice 10, Voskuhl 10, Nankervis 4, Waara 2, J. Rice 4; Fouls: 21; Fouled out: M. Rice; 3-point field goals: none

No threes

CLK: Loukus 3, Anderson 5, Sturos 8, Kiilunen 2, Larson 2, Djerf 18, Halonen 15, Peterson 5, Torola 1; Fouls: 15; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Halonen 2, Djerf 1, Anderson 1, Loukus 1

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