Asserting dominance: Negaunee boys turn up heat in final 3 quarters for 78-33 boys basketball rout of Ishpeming

Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren, left, dribbles behind his back as he is defended by Negaunee’s Dre Tuominen on Wednesday night at Ishpeming High School. (Journal photos by Jess Makela)

“It was by far our best four-quarter effort of the year.” — Dan Waterman, head coach, Negaunee boys basketball

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ISHPEMING — The Negaunee Miners started picking up momentum in the second quarter and made their game at Ishpeming a blowout, defeating the Hematites 78-33 in a Mid-Peninsula Conference game on Wednesday night.

Negaunee head coach Dan Waterman said his players were prepared for their next-door rivals.

“I’m very happy for how hard our kids played,” Waterman said. “Everyone showed up ready to play in this atmosphere, and it was by far our best four-quarter effort of the year.”

Negaunee's Trent Bell takes a shot against Ishpeming on Wednesday night at Ishpeming High School. (Journal photo by Jess Makela)

The game was dominated by Negaunee’s senior leaders, guard Dre’ Tuominen and forward Trent Bell, throughout the first three quarters.

Bell racked up 26 points as Negaunee improved to 7-0, while Tuominen finished the night with 18 before both were pulled for the fourth quarter.

“Both guys put a ton of time in during the offseason, and it shows,” Waterman said. “(Tuominen) controls everything that goes on when he has the ball in his hands, and (Bell) is a game disrupter in every sense of the word both defensively and on the boards.

“It’s like they have a connection because they always find each other on the court.”

While Ishpeming (2-4) hung around with the Miners the majority of the first quarter, Negaunee’s offense came alive when Jake Ennett sank a triple to give his team a six-point lead at the end of the first, 19-13.

The Miners started pulling away with a 10-0 run to open the second quarter, giving them a 29-15 lead with four minutes remaining in the half.

Waterman said the bench could feel their team’s momentum growing during the run.

“Our pressure was picking up,” Waterman said. “We took away some of their good looks at the basket and made Ishpeming more perimeter-oriented. Our energy level was at its peak, and we just made some big shots and got separation.”

The Miners pounded the Hematites with four triples in the period to take a 41-23 lead to the locker room.

Tuominen came out of halftime red hot and further buried the Hematites with seven straight points and two rebounds in just the first two minutes of the third period.

With the home crowd quieted, Ishpeming’s offense stalled out during the third, only scoring two baskets in the quarter while Negaunee continued to control the tempo.

Ishpeming head coach Anthony Katona said his team wasn’t able to sustain their physical game plan through four quarters.

“We started strong and wanted to be the ones with speed and aggression,” Katona said. “We had too many mistakes in the second half. We didn’t work through screens well and gave them too many second-chance opportunities.

“They were physically outworking us, they were setting up good picks and getting us caught up in them.”

Waterman said he has preached strong defense as a main focus for M-PC contests.

“We’ve scored easy all year, but we have some guys who have been through the battles and know conference basketball is tight,” Waterman said. “Points are harder to come by, and we knew we had to tighten the screws on our defense. The guys picked up on that focus at the half and ran with it.”

Both teams started emptying their benches by the beginning of the fourth, and after that Negaunee built its lead to 40 points to force the running clock with two minutes remaining.

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.