ISHPEMING - Gabby Croley says Ishpeming High School's 32-29 Mid-Peninsula Conference girls basketball win over visiting Negaunee on Thursday night made a statement.
"Definitely," the 5-7 junior center said. "Negaunee going into district play with a loss under their belt is pretty good for us, especially if we end up playing them in the finals."
Croley was a major reason why the Hematites improved to 13-6 overall and 8-3 in the M-PC. She scored a game-high 11 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Ishpeming junior Gabby Croley drives into the lane against Negaunee’s Jordyn LaFreniere on Thursday at Ishpeming High School. (Journal photo by Craig Remsburg)
"Gabby played well," IHS head coach Mark Dellangelo said, "and we made just enough plays down the stretch to win.
"We didn't put forth our best effort ... but now, we've won nine of our last 11 games."
Ishpeming, behind a three-point play by Croley in the first quarter, took an 8-4 lead. The Hematites then stretched the advantage to 19-8 at the half.
"We had good ball movement and communication," Croley said. "When you play Negaunee, you have to be more aggressive. That's what I tried to do."
Said Dellangelo: "We were able to get the ball to spots where we could score from."
Negaunee head coach Brandon Sager said his Miners (15-4, 10-2) "came out flat."
"We were on our heels early and dug a hole," he said. "We didn't set any picks, didn't set up on offense and only got three shots in the paint the first half."
Negaunee's best quarter all season has been the third, Sager said. But the Miners were only able to chip two points off Ishpeming's lead to make it 25-16 heading into the final eight minutes.
Negaunee then made a run, however. Behind five points by Kayla Hakala - including a triple with 37 seconds left - the Miners overcame four points by Croley in the quarter to trail just 31-29.
But Ishpeming's Kaylie Engler sank a free throw with 34.7 seconds left in the game and the Miners couldn't find the net late in losing by three.
"Our pressure defense was key in the fourth," Sager said. "It caused some turnovers.
"That and we kept Ishpeming off the boards."
The Hematites still took a 24-18 edge in rebounds, though Rosalie Anderson and Haley Blake hauled in six apiece for the Miners.
Negaunee won the JV game, 45-44.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.