IHS loses heartbreaker

Ishpeming High School's Marissa Maino, center, dribbles to the basket against the defense of Norway High School's Jordan Kraemer, left, and Teidra Fuson, right, on Thursday night at Ishpeming High School. (Journal photo by Jess Makela)

ISHPEMING — It was a fitting end for a pair of teams vying for the championship of the Mid-Peninsula Conference.

Fans attending the Norway-at-Ishpeming girls basketball game were treated to a contest that went down to the wire.

With 29.2 seconds left, Knights senior Britta Grayvold made a steal and then a layup to give her team what proved to be the winning 53-52 score, preserving their perfect record.

It was the defensive stalwart’s only basket all night.

“Britta injured her thumb so after she iced it for a little bit, she was ready to go back out and play,” Norway head coach Carli Kelly said about a mishap that occurred in the middle of the fourth quarter. “She is known for her defense so she stepped up and made a big play for us.”

But there was plenty of time left for Ishpeming to take a winning shot.

The Hematites inbounded the ball, passing it around and apparently setting up for a last-second shot. But Norway forced a tie-up with 6.9 seconds left and the possession arrow pointing to the Knights.

Game over? Not so fast, since the Hematites fouled senior Jordan Kraemer just 1.2 seconds later, and after she missed the front end of a one-and-one situation, Ishpeming grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 4.5 seconds left.

After play resumed, Ishpeming’s Chloe Sjoholm drove to the basket but was blocked by Norway senior Teidra Fuson to prevent the basket.

“Those four seconds seemed like forever,” Kelly said. “They went farther down the court then we would have liked, but our ‘help’ defense stepped up and made a play.”

Senior Khora Swanson and junior Mariah Austin paced the Hematites with 13 points each, while senior teammate Marissa Maino added 11. Austin also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

For Norway, Kraemer recorded game highs of 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Fuson added 10 points.

Norway improved to 16-0 overall and 9-0 in the M-PC, while Ishpeming fell to 12-3 and 7-3. The Knights didn’t clinch the conference crown, however, since Negaunee’s win over Iron Mountain left the Miners at 7-2 in the league.

In the first quarter, Fuson and senior Jada Lasater combined to score a dozen points as Norway grabbed an 18-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“We came out very strong,” Kelly said. “We were unable to practice yesterday, so we had to overcome a lot before this game.”

In the second quarter, the Hematite defense stepped up, shutting out the Knights for the first 4:10 of the period. After Kraemer broke the spell with a bucket with 3:50 left, Ishpeming senior Khora Swanson went on a scoring spree, scoring eight straight points in about two minutes to turn a 20-14 deficit into a 22-20 lead, the first time the Hematites led.

By halftime, Norway regained a 26-24 lead.

“We settled down on offense, which helped us make plays on the defensive end,” IHS head coach Ryan Reichel said about the second quarter. “We had some ups and downs during the first half, so every shot meant something to us.

“We had some foul trouble during the game. While players had to sit out, others stepped up and that kept us in the game.”

In the middle of the third, Sjoholm made back-to-back 3-pointers as Ishpeming retook a 31-28 lead. But Norway answered with a 9-0 run to go back on top, 37-31, just before the third quarter ended.

But the Hematites had one more comeback left in them, a 6-0 run that put them ahead 48-47 with less than three minutes to go.

A Swanson triple and Ava Asgaard free throw kept Ishpeming up 52-49 with a minute and a half left. Finally, two Haley Clifford free throws narrowed the Knights’ gap to one point with less than a minute remaining.

“Ishpeming is a very competitive team that can shoot a lot of 3s and get to the foul line a lot,” Kelly said. “Even though they have had some injuries happen to them recently, for them to still be as competitive as they are means that they are coached really well.”

Up next for Ishpeming, which won the JV game 59-31. is a nonconference game at L’Anse on Monday. Norway’s next game is Thursday at home against Gwinn.