Lay down the law: Madison Pruett, Madigan Johns come to rescue for Ishpeming Hematites in Class C girls basketball regional win over West Iron County, 59-55

Ishpeming’s Madigan Johns, second from right, has the ball knocked loose as she goes up against three West Iron County defenders during the Class C girls basketball regional semifinal game played in Escanaba on Tuesday night. Johns led all players with 19 points in the Hematites’ 59-55 victory. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Mike Mattson)

ESCANABA — Pruett and Johns is not a new attorneys’ office in Ishpeming.

No, it’s the Hematites’ Madison Pruett and Madigan Johns — a key duo who sparked Ishpeming to a thrilling 59-55 girls basketball victory Tuesday night against West Iron County in the girls Class C regional semifinal at Escanaba High School.

Pruett came off the bench to score 12 points on four 3-pointers and Johns finished with a game-high 19 points — including the final seven Ishpeming points in the last 2:22 to seal the victory.

The win advances Ishpeming (20-3) to Thursday’s regional title game against St. Ignace, which routed Houghton 68-34 in Tuesday’s second semifinal.

“St. Ignace is talented,” Ishpeming coach Ryan Reichel said about the Upper Peninsula’s top-ranked Saints. “I’ve been watching film on them a little bit. It’s going to be a good game. We have the same size they do across the board. They have the defensive pressure up the court and we have a little more inside the paint.”

In the semifinal, it was Pruett early and Johns late.

The Wykons raced to a 9-0 lead before the fans could get settled. Reichel promptly called on Pruett, who hit two 3-pointers as Ishpeming rallied to tie the game 11-11 after one quarter.

Pruett hit her third 3 in the second as IHS took a measure of control and gained a 26-23 halftime lead.

The Wykons (18-5), however, wouldn’t go away and battled back to tie the game 42-42 after three quarters.

Ishpeming led 52-51 when Johns drove the basket and was fouled, completing a three-point play for a 55-51 lead with 2:22 to go.

WIC’s Anna Malmquist answered with a pair of free throws to cut its deficit to 55-53 with 1:59 left.

Ishpeming then took the air out of the ball and forced WIC to foul the rest of the way.

Enter Johns, who swished four free throws in the last 10 seconds. A Wykons’ turnover with 1.7 seconds remaining led to Johns’ last two free throws and the final 59-55 four-point spread.

Johns, who is the Player of the Year in the Mid-Peninsula Conference, shoots 87 percent from the line and the Hematites shoot 78 percent as a team from the stripe.

“We knew if it became fouls down the stretch we were going to be able to capitalize on it and do some good things with the ball,” Reichel said.

“The first half, all I can say is Pruett, sixth-man-of-the-year-type girl. She came in and hit some big shots for us and got us back in the ball game. And then we put the ball in our senior’s hands and made free throws down the stretch.”

Mariah Austin also had a big night for Ishpeming with 13 points, including seven in the third quarter.

It was a tough loss for the young Wykons, who start three sophomores and two juniors.

Sophomore 6-footer Eden Golliher scored 15 points before fouling out in the final minute. Emily Nelson, a 6-1 classmate, followed with 14 points and Colbi Laturi added eight points.

“To start out 9-0 our girls were focused for this game,” Wykons’ coach Eric Shamion said. “I really thought we came out on fire. But Pruett got them back in it and it was a dogfight for four quarters. Madigan Johns is a real tough player and we knew that going in.

“Hats off to Ishpeming. It was a heavyweight battle back and forth. They threw punches. We threw punches. Neither team was ready to back down. I thought Pruett, who came off the bench and scored four 3s, really killed us. We didn’t account for that. That was the ball game.”

Shamion also credited his seniors — Grace Gasperini, Erin Possanza, Natalie Tomasoski and Aly Pangrazzi — for their dedication and leadership this season.

“It hurts in the locker room,” Shamion said. “There were quite a few tears. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they gave. Sometimes you come up short and tonight we did.”