NEGAUNEE - The Negaunee boys basketball team has the look of a college or professional team.
For example, there's the wiry point guard with all the moves, Tyler Jandron; the solidly built, dead-eye shooting forward, Tanner Uren; and the 6-foot-7 low-post center-forward, Brock Weaver.
But these and other Miner players aren't content to just fill their expected roles, and that's part of what makes this team so tough to play against.
Negaunee’s Tanner Uren, right, goes up for a layup with Ishpeming’s Derek DeCaire guarding him at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee on Wednesday. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)
On Wednesday night, NHS raced to leads of 10-0, 19-3 and 25-5 en route to an easy 69-42 victory over Ishpeming at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee.
The Miners, ranked No. 2 in the first Class ABC Upper Peninsula basketball poll released Monday, improved to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Mid-Peninsula Conference. Ishpeming slipped to 2-2 and 1-2.
"The name of the game nowadays is versatility," Negaunee head coach Mike O'Donnell said. "We've got big guys who can handle the ball and guards who can slash inside.
"And Tanner Uren can do just about anything with a basketball."
Uren led all scorers with 19 points while sharing rebounding honors with seven and adding five steals. A majority of his points, 10, came during the fast start in the first quarter on five 2-pointers.
Jandron, despite getting in some first-half foul trouble, scored 16 points, while Weaver had eight points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
The Miners' other starting guard, Eric Lori, added 10 points and nine assists.
"We really played like a team tonight," Weaver said. "We came out really strong at the start for the first time this season. We've had a couple other decent starts to games, but this is the first time we just jumped right into the flow from the very beginning."
Unfortunately, the same wasn't true for the Hematites.
"The first five or so possessions, the ball didn't go in," IHS head coach John Tiziani said. "I applaud our guys for their effort, and I'm very, very happy with how hard they played.
"But it's easy to get a little anxious, a little rushed when things don't start out well.
"Remember, this team (Negaunee) is one of the two best teams in the U.P., along with Marquette."
Ishpeming was shut out for nearly 4 minutes to start the game. The drought ended on a 3-pointer by Derek DeCaire with about 3:40 to go in the first. DeCaire, who had all five Ishpeming points in the opening period, led his team in scoring with 14 points for the night.
Tiziani was also concerned with the huge rebounding edge Negaunee held, 35-20, which only included three or four offensive boards for Ishpeming.
"I know they're taller, but we need 10 or 12 boards on offense, whatever we've got to do to get them," Tiziani said.
As happy as O'Donnell was with his team's opening period, he was not satisfied as Ishpeming held a 13-11 scoring advantage in the second quarter.
"Offensively, we had great movement, got the ball to the open person and knocked our shots down," he said about the first quarter. "But I think we got tired a little bit and we weren't in our rhythm for the rest of the first half.
"Ishpeming also did a better job of attacking and going to the rim instead of settling for perimeter shots in the second quarter."
Though the lead was still a comfortable 36-18 at halftime, Negaunee put the game out of reach with a 14-4 spurt to start the second half to go ahead 50-22 with 3:20 left in the third quarter.
Jandron became the go-to guy under and around the bucket, hitting a short jumper and three layups off his teammates' passes in that stretch.
The Hematites won the JV game, 44-36.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.