GWINN - Negaunee High School's boys basketball team found out Friday night it can win a big game without Mid-Peninsula Conference Player of the Year Tyler Jandron.
A 6-1 junior point guard and Negaunee's leading scorer, Jandron spent most of the first half on the bench with three fouls he picked up in the first 6:07 of the game.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, he missed a couple of more minutes after hitting his head on the floor on a drive to the basket.
Negaunee's Brock Weaver, right, blocks a shot by Gwinn's Justin Nyquist (24) during the third quarter of the Class C district championship game in Gwinn on Friday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Teammates Tanner Uren and Eric Lori stepped up in a big way, leading the Miners to a 64-34 victory over host Gwinn for their third straight Class C district title.
Uren fired in 18 points and Lori took over Jandron's point guard duties while notching 11 points himself as the Miners improved to 21-1. Jandron still managed to score 15 points.
"Our guys were mentally strong (with Jandron out) and a lot of people stepped up," said NHS head coach Mike O'Donnell, whose team will next play Harbor Springs at 6 p.m. Monday in Escanaba in a regional contest.
"I liked how we executed at both ends of the floor."
The Miners led 15-9 after one quarter and 31-21 at the half before blowing the game wide open in the final 16 minutes.
Uren nailed a pair of 3-point shots and Lori added another early in the second to give NHS a 24-12 lead.
"I was open and my teammates found me," Uren, who posted five assists on the night, said of his triples. "With Tyler out, other people had to step up.
"Part of my job as a senior leader is to make shots."
Said GHS head coach Darren Sinnaeve: "Uren just killed us with those 3's. He connected when he had to and Negaunee's a tough team to cover."
Negaunee started using a spread offense midway through the third quarter that not only took some time off the clock, but put pressure on the Gwinn defense with open gaps.
"We talked beforehand that if we had a lead and were in foul trouble, we'd spread it out to get more offense and milk the clock," O'Donnell said. "It opened the floor."
Negaunee was called for 19 fouls in the physical game and Gwinn 20.
"Our third quarter was so bad, we couldn't afford not to put the ball in the basket," Sinnaeve said, noting his 15-7 team scored just two baskets and five points in the stanza.
Another factor was the Miners - Jandron early and then Andrew Katona the rest of the way - held Gwinn senior guard-forward Derek Reetz to just three points.
"Katona did an amazing defensive job to hold Reetz to under 10 points," O'Donnell said. "He played smart basketball and I can't say enough about him tonight."
Negaunee took a 43-26 lead into the fourth quarter and closed it out with a 21-8 advantage.
Justin Nyquist paced the Modeltowners with 12 points.
"It was his most complete game of the season," Sinnaeve said, "but we just lost to a good team. A lot of that came from (Negaunee's) defense.
"But we had a good season. Not many Gwinn (boys) teams have come out with 15 wins."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org