ISHPEMING - Rosalie Anderson said she and her Negaunee High School basketball teammates had at least one goal from Day 1 of the current season:
Win the Mid-Peninsula conference championship.
"It was our goal this season ... and it feels awesome," the junior forward said after the Miners clinched the league title with a hard-fought 37-31 win over host Westwood on Friday night.
Negaunee’s Ashley Veale drives to the hoop as Westwood’s Alexis Forchini tries to cut her off during the first quarter at Westwood High School on Friday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"We didn't want to share the M-PC (crown). We wanted to win it outright so we wouldn't have to battle for it with Ishpeming."
Rosalie and her sister, Adena, led the Miners - now 15-3 overall and 10-1 in the M-PC - with 11 points apiece.
"The girls deserve this (title)," first-year NHS head coach Brandon Sager said of Negaunee's second-straight league championship and third in four years. "They worked their butts off all season."
Negaunee 37, Westwood 31
Summary (field goals, free throws, total points)
NEGAUNEE - Hakala, 3-0-8; Veale, 3-0-6; A. Anderson, 5-0-11; R. Anderson, 3-5-11; Clickner, 0-1-1. Totals, 14-6-37.
WESTWOOD - Hebert, 2-0-4; Forchini, 2-0-4; Rankinen, 3-3-9; Harrington, 2-1-6; Dauphinais-VanBuren, 3-2-8. Totals, 12-6-31.
Score by quarters:
Negaunee 14 2 9 12 - 37
Westwood 13 6 4 8 - 31
FG shooting: Negaunee, 14 of 39 (35.8 percent); Westwood, 12 of 33 (36.3 percent); FT shooting: Negaunee, 6 of 8 (75 percent); Westwood, 6 of 8 (75 percent); Rebounding, Negaunee, 18 (Adena Anderson, 5); Westwood, 17 (Katie Rankinen, 6).
Kingsford 42, Iron Mountain 33
Menominee 45, Big Bay de Noc 21
Negaunee 37, Westwood 31
Bessemer 62, Mercer, Wis., 25
St. Ignace 84, Newberry 13
Sault Ste. Marie 64, Rudyard 34
Friday's win didn't come easy, though, for the Miners. Under stifling Westwood defensive pressure, NHS committed 18 turnovers and led just 34-31 with 23 seconds left.
But Courtney Clickner hit a free throw and Rosalie Anderson put the game on ice with two charity stripe tosses with 17.5 seconds left.
"I wasn't too nervous," Rosalie Anderson said of her late FTs. "I've had to make a couple of free throws down the stretch before and I've been shooting them pretty well lately."
Westwood first-year head coach Kurt Corcoran said the NHS free throws down the stretch were the difference.
"We've got to get to the free-throw line more than eight times, though," he said. "But the girls played their hearts out. They always leave it all on the court."
The Miners took a 9-0 lead before five points from Elizabeth Dauphinais-VanBuren helped the Patriots (6-12, 5-5) close the gap to a 14-13 deficit after one quarter.
Westwood then held the Miners to just two points in the second quarter to claim a 19-16 halftime lead.
"We missed way too many layups, though," Corcoran said.
Despite starter Dauphinais-VanBuren spending much of the game on the bench with foul trouble, the Patriots stayed close.
Pressuring the ball all over the court, they trailed just 25-23 heading into the final quarter.
"It has been our bread-and-butter all year," Corcoran said of the Patriots' press. "But Liz's foul trouble didn't help."
Said Anderson: "(The pressure) was exhausting. It was a physical game. Coach told us at the half to slow it down."
Katie Rankinen scored nine points and Dauphinais-VanBuren eight to pace the Patriots, who committed 20 turnovers.
"We keep shooting ourselves in the foot," Corcoran said. "We had way too many unforced errors."
Sager said in the end, the Miners "pulled it together" in the second half.
"We made some plays and some good decisions," he said, adding Rosalie Anderson was a key factor in his team's win.
"She's the last one in the gym every day and doesn't leave until she makes a certain number of free throws It's a credit to her hard work," he said.
Negaunee won the JV game, 35-24.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.