Good home cookin’

Hematites win Class C?district championship over Westwood in own gym

Ishpeming's Mariah Bertucci, center, goes up against Westwood's Marissa Carello, left, and Tessa Leece for a rebound in the third quarter of the Class C girls basketball district tournament championship game played at the Hematites' gym on Friday, March 2, 2018. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

By RYAN SPITZA

Journal Sports Writer

ISHPEMING — Ishpeming senior guard Madigan Johns scored 20 points while Westwood sophomore guard Madelyn Koski countered by dropping in 22 in a tight start-to-finish battle in the Class C district championship game played at Ishpeming High School on Friday night.

The Hematites overcame the Patriots 59-52 to claim the district title and advance to the regional round against West Iron County at Escanaba High School on Tuesday.

Ishpeming head coach Ryan Reichel said the feeling of hoisting the district trophy in his team’s home gym was a good one. He credited the Patriots for a hard-fought battle.

“It feels really good,” he said. “When you’ve got five seniors starting, you’ve invested a lot with them. It feels good to be on the winning side of this hoisting the trophy in your own gym.

“These girls grinded out and Westwood gave a good ball game. They’ve got some great players, they started three sophomores and I can see them being on this side of a trophy presentation someday.”

Johns said the feeling of winning the title in a tough district was one of joy.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “We worked so hard over the summer and during the season. We played as a team, we rebounded and it was just a perfect night.”

Teammate and senior guard Mariah Austin agreed with that sentiment, as she also appeared to be holding back tears of joy.

“This is what I’ve always wanted,” she said. “It’s unreal. We came into this game so confident and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Westwood head coach Kurt Corcoran said it was a fun ride this season for his team and thanked his senior players for their contributions.

“It’s always a tough day and a tough conversation to have at this time,” he said. “Basketball seasons are long, emotional rollercoasters. I’m obviously super proud of these girls.

“When our seniors were pulled up as sophomores we won five games. We’ve come this far since they were sophomores and they’re leaving this program certainly leaving their mark.”

Westwood, which finished the season with a 15-7 record, held the lead for most of the first half, getting out to a 6-0 lead on buckets from sophomore guards Tessa Leece and Koski and sophomore forward Karlie Patron.

Ishpeming got on the board on a jumper from senior Katie Loman to make it 6-2, but Westwood kept answering.

The Hematites pulled within 14-13 at the end of the first. After a triple in the second from junior guard Madison Pruett to tie the game at 16, Austin hit a long two from the corner to give her team its first advantage.

The teams traded leads a couple more times to end the half, and Ishpeming had the edge at the break 26-25.

Ishpeming controlled the pace for most of the second half, never surrendering the lead.

After some more back-and-forth buckets, Westwood stayed close, and eventually got a tying jumper from Leece to make it 36-36.

Ishpeming answered right back, with consecutive triples from Austin and Johns. That sequence made the score 42-36 at the end of the third quarter.

The Hematites went up by as many as 10 points in the fourth, but Westwood cut it to six points with under two minutes to play on a bucket from Farley.

Ishpeming then made its free throws to seal the game and the district title.

Austin added 16 points for Ishpeming while senior guard Chloe Sjoholm had 11. Leece had 15 for Westwood while Farley had seven.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.

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