NEGAUNEE - When Negaunee faces Houghton in an MHSAA Class C boys regional final at Escanaba tonight, Miners head coach Mike O'Donnell says it'll be more than a basketball game.
"It'll be a little bit of a chess match," he said prior to the 7 p.m. start at Escanaba High School, "a little bit of the unknown, since we didn't see (the Gremlins) during the (regular) season."
O'Donnell did watch Houghton (15-7) Monday night when the Gremlins knocked off Norway, 45-28, in a regional semifinal contest.
Negaunee’s Tyler Jandron (14) dribbles past Harbor Springs’ Peter Lauer and looks for a teammate Monday in an MHSAA Class C Region 24 boys semifinal Monday at Escanaba High School. The Miners won to advance to tonight’s regional final against Houghton at 7 p.m. in Escanaba. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Burt Angeli)
"They seem to be very perimeter-oriented," he said of the Gremlins. "Anyone can shoot the 3-pointer. It's a big part of their game."
Coach Jared Lawson's Gremlins beat Marquette during the regular season by sinking 10 triples.
Trent Keteri, a junior guard, can hit from beyond the arc while averaging a team-leading 15 points.
Junior point guard Ryan LaBerge (13.4), senior forward Cody Goodreau (11) and forward Zach Ohtonen (10) also average in double figures scoring-wise.
"They like their guards to break (defenders) down," O'Donnell said. "It'll be their perimeter game vs. our size. We'll want to get the ball inside."
Houghton went 10-0 at home this season and just 2-7 on the road.
The Miners (22-1) will feature Mid-Peninsula Conference Player of the Year Tyler Jandron (6-1 junior) at point guard and Tanner Uren (6-3 senior) at forward.
During the regular season, Jandron - who fired in 25 points against Harbor Springs on Monday night in a 64-37 regional semifinal win - averaged 17.5 ppg.
Uren tossed in 12 points a contest to go with a team-high 6.1 rebounds a game, while guard Eric Lori turned in 13.4 ppg to go along with a team-high 35.1 percent 3-point shooting average (34 of 97).
Brock Weaver, a 6-7 senior center, averaged seven points and five rebounds a game.
"We'll have to establish our inside game early," O'Donnell said, "and not settle for 3-point shots against (Houghton's) zone defense."
He added his team will try to "get into our pressure game" against the Gremlins.
"Our defense is playing well lately," O'Donnell said. "It's creating some offense for us, too, with transition baskets."
If free throws become a factor for Negaunee during the game, the Miners sank 64.7 percent this season. Jandron canned 75.8 percent and Uren 73.5 percent to lead the team.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.