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The Houghton Gremlins girls basketball team battled their way through a full game against the visiting Calumet Copper Kings Tuesday but eventually fell 54-45 at the Houghton Gym.
The Copper Kings came out with a fire under their shoes as they controlled the floor for much of the first half with a strong defensive presence, holding off Houghton until the third quarter when momentum started to shift despite a strong defensive pressure.
“I felt like we were playing a little bit out of control at times,” said Calumet coach Matt Laho. “We got into foul trouble early and it took us awhile to recover from that. I felt like they came out in the third and re-established themselves. Then, at the the end, they finished strong.”
There was a lot Laho likes about his team’s performance.
“Our half court defense was really good,” said Laho. “They were having a hard time getting good looks or good shots. We were doing a good job rebounding on the defensive side and just holding them off on the half court and not giving them those throws over the top.”
Freshman Jena Loukus, sophomore Elli Djerf and senior Ava Anderson, were team leaders for the Copper Kings as the girls keep a one game at a time mentality heading into the second half of the season. Loukus had six points on the night. Djerf lead Calumet with 22 points. Anderson added three.
“I thought Jena Loukus stepped up for us off the bench,” said Laho. “Elli, she carries us offensively when we need her. I thought Ava Anderson did a great job on defense.
“Every game we’re looking towards the post season here, so we’ve just got to keep taking steps forward (by) looking at the game film, look at some areas of improvement and get back to work in the gym.”
Despite a stronger second half for the Gremlins, they could not find answers for plays from Djerf and Loukus, who both hit left-side threes. That was enough to hold off the hosts, who have lost their last three games by close margins.
“Our last two and a half games I’ve been disappointed with our effort and, because of that, our confidence. I can’t say that tonight,” said Filpus. “We’re happy with how we’ve turned and battled.
“We fell behind and dug ourselves out of the hole. I think there was a point somewhere midway through the third quarter, (where) we were down four. (I) give Calumet credit. They came down and hit back-to-back three’s and that was a little too much for us to dig out of.”
Junior guard Josie Connors lead the Gremlins with 18 points, getting 16 in the second half of the game.
“She was our MVP tonight on offense and on defense,” Filpus said. “If she brings that effort out on the floor (every game), we’ll be a different team.”
Game fundamentals are a focus before Houghton travels to West Iron County on Friday.
“(We) just (need to work on) our overall team defense.” said Filpus, “being in the right spot, not sitting on our heels. We have a lot of fundamental flaws on defense that we want our girls to improve on.”
Houghton 7 12 10 16 – 45
Calumet 12 13 13 16 – 54
CLK: Loukus 6, Anderson 3, Kiilunen 4, Larson 4, Djerf 22, Halonen 11, Peterson 2, Torola 2; Fouls: 11; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Loukus 2, Djerf 1, Halonen 1
HHS: Markham 6, Ryynanen 5, Connors 18, Bugni 2, Svoke 2, Trewhella 12; Fouls: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Connors 4, Ryynanen 1