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Looking for a response after his team’s tough loss to L’Anse last Thursday, Calumet Copper Kings boys basketball coach Mike Ojala got exactly what he wished for as the Copper Kings worked the ball down the floor quickly throughout a 72-48 victory over the West Iron County Wykons Thursday at the Calumet Gym.
Calumet held the lead throughout the contest, but that did not mean the win was an easy one.
“We’ve talked (for) five practices about just improving at the defensive end,” Mike Ojala said. “It was a disappointing Christmas break practice-wise for us and it lead into a disappointing game in L’anse. We got what we deserved there.
“The kids have really went at it these last few days. Our intensity and energy was just night and day which was important for us. That was good because we beat a good team tonight.”
The Copper Kings took a slight 18-12 lead after the first quarter with senior Matt Ojala scoring six of his 22 points inside the paint. Coach Ojala was proud to see his team put up big numbers.
“We had four kids in double figures, but I thought Matt’s had some good ball games over his career and tonight is one of his better ones,” said Mike Ojala. “Anytime you get a triple-double, it’s not easy to do. (This) is his second one this year.
“(I’m) just proud to get four guys into double figures and proud of our defensive effort.”
The Wykons’ Brayden Nelson made two shots from the free throw line late in the third quarter, making it a 10-point game, 40-30. Nelson finished the game with five points.
Efficiency would eventually seal the deal for the Copper Kings with senior Travis Ojala working inside the paint with 4:27 remaining in regulation to help put the game out of reach.
Coach Ojala liked seeing consistent defensive growth in his team.
“(We just need) consistency with our energy defensively,” said the elder Ojala. “We were better against the zone tonight also. Zones have been tough for us (in) the last couple of games, but we were better tonight (and) got the ball into more effective spots.”
Wykons coach Dan Schive saw a his team play timid and end up outplayed on both ends of the floor. Caden Pellizzer lead West Iron County with 15 points, most coming in the first half.
“We got out-quicked, out-ran, out-rebounded and out-hustled,” said Schive. “When they started pushing the ball up the floor, we didn’t get back sufficiently on defense. When we did get back defensively, we’re not mentally tough enough to stand and try and take a charge or get in the way of anybody (who tried) to make a basket.”
It was tough first game back after a 21 days away. Schive would like to see his team get mentally and physically tougher before facing Houghton in four days.
“I was kind of afraid of this tonight.” said Schive. “We haven’t played in 21 days, so it’s kind of like starting over again, but I never expected to get on the floor and play that timidly.”
West Iron County 12 14 6 16 – 48
Calumet 18 20 17 17 – 72
WIC: Thomson 13, Pellizzer 15, Swanson 8, Nelson 5, Dobson 2, Williams 2, Quayle 3 ; Fouls: 16; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: none
CLK: Haapala 2, M. Ojala 22, Antilla 5, T. Ojala 15, McParlan 13, Twardzik 3, Torola 10, Ekdahi 2; Fouls: 18; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: McParlan 3, Antilla 1