Johnson times 2

Sisters used to leading Miners as they roar past Manistique

Manistique High School's Joslyn Muth, left, and Negaunee High School's Ielee Shiroda, right, jump for the rebound Friday night, Jan. 6, 2017 at Lakeview Elementary School. (Journal photo by Jess Makela)

NEGAUNEE — Manistique had no answer for Negaunee’s Johnson sisters on Friday night.

The Miners duo helped their team defend home court with an easy 79-25 win over the Emeralds in a Mid-Peninsula Conference game.

The Johnsons combined for 41 points, with junior Aleda tallying 24 while Clara put up 17.

Negaunee head coach Brandon Sager said the sisters have played a major role in the Miners’ hot start to their M-PC season.

“They’re two of the best guards in the conference, especially on the defensive end,” Sager said. “They were on all night, and created a lot of their offense on defense.

“They had some open opportunities and were smooth all night. Night in and night out, both girls bring their steady selves.”

The Miners took control of the game early, building a 28-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Seventeen of those points came from the Johnsons.

With both girls dishing out four assists, the sisters took turns quarterbacking the Miners into the offensive zone while the other found an opening either in the paint or around the 3-point line.

“They have a feel and know where each other are all the time,” Sager said. “They space the court well, and can pick where each other are going to create open lanes. We’ve been working on getting all the players to find ways of opening lanes, and (the Johnsons) lead by example.”

But the two have helped Negaunee start the season 5-3 with more than just the ability to find open lanes and sink baskets from the paint.

The siblings displayed their talents on the defensive side as well, turning defense into offense as Aleda made five steals in the first quarter alone, finishing the night with nine.

Manistique head coach David Winkel knew the game plan heading in was to find a way to limit the Johnsons’ ball touches as much as possible.

“We wanted to contain them, but they’re just good players,” Winkel said. “They can beat you a number of different ways. They can shoot outside, so if you close out hard they’re going to bring it to the basket and finish it there, so it’s a double-threat.

“They’re very powerful defensively, creating turnovers and making offense out of nothing. Anyone who faces them has their hands full.”

With 5:30 remaining in the third quarter, Aleda drove the lane for layup and added a free throw to complete a three-point play, putting the Miners on top 52-12 and triggering a running clock.

The girls were out of the game by the start of the fourth as Negaunee maintained a 50-point lead, bringing in substitutes while other starters got the chance to shine.

Sophomore forward Abby Nelson scored nine points, while junior forwards Ally Jacobson and Ielee Shiroda racked up eight points.

“Our bench players hit the boards a few times for us now, and it’s good for us to mix them in,” Sager said. “Down the stretch, they’re going to need to be familiar with some of the things we do, and nights like this are good to create confidence for everyone around.”

Negaunee returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Gwinn.

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