Houghton boys shoot lights-out in basketball win over Ishpeming Hematites

Ishpeming’s Jacob Kugler, right, looks to pass while Houghton’s Wes Hyslop defends during their game played Wednesday in Houghton. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Daver Karnosky)

HOUGHTON — It took most of the first quarter for the Houghton boys basketball team to heat up. About 6 1/2 minutes into the first quarter, like popcorn on a stove, the Gremlins started popping and never looked back in a 75-65 victory over visiting Ishpeming on Wednesday at the Houghton Gym.

Houghton senior guard George Butvilas scored 31 points as the only thing that could slow him down was muscle cramps. Junior teammate Brad Sirard picked up the slack and finished with a game-high 33 points.

Ishpeming coach Anthony Katona had a simple description for what the pair accomplished.

“They got in a rhythm,” Katona said. “It got contagious with them. They shot the ball really well tonight. I think that, overall, Houghton was the best shooting team we have seen all year.”

Butvilas put up 14 points in the opening quarter, seemingly toying with the Hematites’ defense as he changed up the speed of his attack. He would get down the court, stop, skip a beat, then blow around a double team and drive to the hoop with ease.

Gremlins coach Jared Lawson talked about how hard his guard works in practice.

“The last two nights, he’s been really feeling it,” Lawson said. “The one thing I need to state is how much time he puts in. He’s in here in the morning before school, and he’s in here after practice putting his time in. It’s paying off for him.”

As Katona had his team try to switch things up defensively and start to box Butvilas in a bit, he kicked the ball out to Sirard, who was more than happy to hit his share of long jumpers and mix in four 3-pointers as he found separation from Ishpeming’s 6-foot-8 Darius Yohe.

Lawson was proud of his third-year forward for having the patience to take what Yohe gave him after struggling early.

“Brad, in the third quarter, he got it going,” Lawson said. “Next thing you know, one guy picks up where the other guy left off. Brad got his outside game going…. You give that kid the green light every time he has the ball because you believe he is going to make the next shot.”

Yohe started to find the hoop as well from outside the arc, hitting two of his four 3s in the third quarter as the Hematites began to employ a full-court press.

But it was too little too late.

“I thought the effort was great there,” Katona said. “We executed well on the offensive end tonight. We scored enough to win. Most games, 65 points (should be enough).

“It’s just the little things. It takes a full team effort.”